Dorothy Neddermeyer's comments about "In Defense of an Educator Accused of Child Abuse" and Riak's response
April 20, 2003

Dear Jordan:

Thanks for the link to this well written and provocative essay on paddling children for discipline in schools. I have two comments you may publish if you wish.

Obviously, you believe that no one individual is responsible for his or her decisions... Charles Moore knowingly and willingly made a choice in each and every instance he has paddled a child that it has negative consequences to the child. You conveniently denied paddling/hitting a child is harmful. Even in time of war soldiers are held responsible for their decisions. The My Lai incident is a case in point.

Secondly, you are incorrect when you state, "Meanwhile, the real culprits will continue to get off scott-free. Who are they? They are the teachers' colleges that grant degrees to people who haven't learned anything in four years. They are the teacher credentialling agencies and school boards that entrust the care of children to dangerous incompetents." The real culprits in allowing children to be paddled in school are EVERY ADULT in the 22 States. EVERY adult who votes can change the law in a single school district, in a County or in the State. WHY do, otherwise intelligent and sophisticated, adults allow children to be paddled in their school district, county or state? The answer is not complicated. They cannot have empathy toward children until they can honestly acknowledge the mistreatment from their own childhood experiences and examine the shortcomings of their parents. To the extent they feel compelled to defend their parents and guard their secrets, they will do the same to others. They will look the other way. By continually insisting that they 'turned out okay.' they are reassuring themselves and diverting their attention from deeply hidden unpleasant memories. This is why, when someone says, 'spanking or paddling is abuse,' many people react as though a door barricaded since infancy has been smashed open. This barricaded, unconscious door has prevented them from committing the most dangerous most unpardonable act of disloyalty to their parents. They are afraid that by opening the door [acknowledging paddling/ hitting children is wrong] they might fall through into an abyss--abdondoned and cut off from any possibility of reconciliation with the parents they love. The fear is irrational. Denial--about what was done to their generation and, now what they are doing and allowing to be done to the next generation--is the real danger and the real sin.

Reconciliation and healing can only begin with an acknowledgement of the truth. It is futile to hope that lies, evasions and excuses can somehow erase the memory and the pain of past injuries.


Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, MSW, CSW, CCH, CRT
Genesis Consultants, Inc.
Phone: 973-762-4854 Fax: 973-762-8372

April 20, 2003


Thank you for your excellent letter which, with your permission, I will publish.

The points you make are well taken. Like you, I am an ardent Alice Miller fan, so your remarks resonate with me. As for the age-old questions about free will and personal responsibility, I fear they don't always yield to the clear-cut answers we might wish.

You cite the My Lai massacre. There is no question how you or I would act were we soldiers thrust into that situation today. But imagine a young person who had been raised from infancy in an atmosphere totally devoid of empathy and gentleness, and immersed, like a pickle in vinegar, in aggression, violence and revenge. Imagine that he had been subjected to enough spankings and paddlings to have driven out any vestige of self-worth, and to have reduced his capacity for moral judgement and critical thinking to nil. Then, imagine him as an adult armed with a rifle and placed at My Lai. Or armed with a paddle and placed in the principal's office of a Louisiana school. You can be fairly sure of the outcome.

There is an old adage about corruption: "A fish rots from the head down." I think the same applies to corporal punishment. I chose to frame my essay as I did, not to exonerate Charles Moore, but to show where the major obstacles to reform lie: at the top. I know I was taking a risk that some readers would not read past the first few paragraphs and think I had suddenly gone soft on paddlers (or soft in the head). In the concluding paragraph I referred to "dangerous incompetents" and to graduates of teachers' colleges who haven't learned anything - which, I hope, set the record straight about what I think of Mr. Moore and paddlers in general.


Return to "In Defense of a School Principal Accused of Child Abuse" at
Return to Abuse in the classroom at
Return to Project NoSpank Table of Contents at