The Secular Coalition of America announced this weekend that it is supporting legislation that would ban the use of force against children as a punishment in both public and private schools. The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and is called the Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act (HR 5628). The bill currently has 18 co-sponsors. No Florida representatives have signed on to support this bill yet.
The Secular Coalition of America (SCA) is opposed to current law that provides religious exemptions for various forms of child abuse. These include exemptions that allow parents to medically neglect their kids for religious reasons, religious exemptions from health and safety requirements for religiously based child care centers and other related exemptions. The position of the SCA is that all children, regardless of background, should be protected from abuse and that no group can claim they have "special rights" to harm children.
Currently, 30 states outlaw corporal punishment in public schools, but only two extend that protection to children enrolled in private religious schools. This is a particular problem in private Christian schools because the bible contains seven passages that specifically recommend the use of physical pain to discipline children. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family is a well known advocate of this view of parenting says that "pain is a marvelous purifier." *
There are several private Christian schools in Florida that are on the International Survivors Action Committee watchlist for private schools that are known to use corporal punishment on their students/inmates. These include Lighthouse Ministries of Jay Florida (formerly Victory Christian Academy) – which has it's own survivors group, and New Beginings Girls Academy in Pace Florida – which also has a survivors group. The reason there are survivor groups for these "christian" academies is because the techniques used to "help" a wayward child back to the path of Christ are actually well known forms of torture.
The push to ban corporal punishment in all schools including the religious ones is motivated by a need to protect children in these religiously run torture prisons.
The Secular Coalition of America is made of up ten Humanist, freethought and secular organizations including the American Humanist Association and the Council for Secular Humanism both of which have chapters in the Tampa area.
For more information:
* See related: "THE KING OF PAIN," Chapter 6 of Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal, 2009, Nation Books, NY