Presentation to the Beaumont (Texas) School Board
By Isabelle Allgood Neal, October 16, 2003

Thank you Mrs. Hicks, Dr. Thomas and Members of the School Board:

I am a parent and a member of the Board of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education, a national non-profit child advocacy group. I am here to talk about corporal punishment in schools, and to persuade you to abolish corporal punishment in our school district.

Corporal Punishment in Schools is illegal in 28 states and currently one more state has pending legislation to abolish it. The largest school districts in our nation are educating successfully without corporal punishment. And, except for Canada, every developed, industrialized country in the world and many developing nations in Asia and Africa have outlawed corporal punishment of school children.

In Texas, every major city, except Dallas, has banned corporal punishment in schools. Many medium sized cities in Texas have also abolished it. Recently, the school districts of Nashville and Mobile abolished school paddling. And just last Thursday, a federal judge in Alabama ruled that teachers and administrators cannot hide behind state immunity when they use excessive corporal punishment.

There are dozens of organizations in the US which have called for an end to all corporal punishment in schools because of the known physical and mental health dangers, because the research shows it doesn't work and because sanctioned violence has no place in education. Some of the organizations are the NAACP, the American Medical Association, the National Education Association, the National School Board Association, the National PTA, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of School Psychologists, American Bar Association and the Association of Junior Leagues.

The US Department of Education reports that corporal punishment in US schools is decreasing. This decreasing trend in the US is consistent with the worldwide trend away from corporal punishment in schools. Not one nation or state has ever brought back school corporal punishment once it has been abolished. Except for one: Nazi Germany under Hitler.

Pediatric neurologists have shown with new brain imaging that stress associated with pain and fear from violent punishments, negatively affects the development and function of the child's brain. The effects are life-long and irreversible.

Recent empirical studies comparing state sociological data to states with and without school cp, consistently show that school corporal punishment positively correlates with low academic achievement, aggression, high dropout rates, juvenile delinquency, domestic violence, depression and other social pathologies.

Some educators in paddling states defend corporal punishment in schools by saying it's needed to maintain the discipline necessary for educational achievement. That's anecdotal and it's not backed by research. In fact, the opposite is true. Clearly, the studies show that states which have outlawed school corporal punishment altogether and use positive discipline measures, have achieved far greater academic success and have fewer social pathologies than those states that still allow cp in schools. School policy needs to be based on research, not anecdotes.

I urge the BISD Administration to implement the positive discipline techniques that work for professional teachers in thousands of other school districts in our nation and to end corporal punishment now. It won't cost us a nickel. And when we do, the payback will be enormous: more children will grow up learning how to communicate and problem-solve without violence and it will be a major contribution to reducing violence in our community. We can all benefit from that.

Isabelle Allgood Neal is a Member of the Board of Directors of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE)

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