Corporal Punishment In Schools Must End
By Jordan Riak, The New York Times letters column, January 11, 1989

To the Editor:

According to figures released by the Boston-based national Coalition of Advocates for Students, 5.22 percent of black schoolchildren in the United States are legally physically beaten by teachers while 2.28 percent of white schoolchildren are thus abused.

The disparity cannot be explained, I believe, except by acknowledging that the practice of corporal punishment in schools is tied to bigotry. If there Is another explanation, or indeed a reasonable explanation why both numbers should not be zero, I have yet to hear it.

The failure by the Federal Government to address the fundamental right of schoolchildren to be safe from the imposition of physical torture constitutes a gross, and unconscionable, abrogation of moral responsibility. Every excuse given for Federal noninterference with the system's violence against American schoolchildren is a lame excuse.

It is to be hoped that Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos, the first Hispanic American to hold a cabinet post, will assert the authority of his office to end corporal punishment in the 38 states that still allow it and thereby bring the United States into line with all other civilized nations in this matter.

Jordan Riak
Danville, California
The writer is executive director of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education.

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