To: Pennsylvania State Board of Education
From: Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education

May 2002

[Sent to each board member via snail-mail on PTAVE stationery, May 21 and May 22]

Dear Board Member:

It is our understanding that the Pennsylvania State Board of Education is contemplating a statewide prohibition of corporal punishment in schools. We are pleased with this news and we urge you to proceed forthwith.

Predictably you will hear the defenders of corporal punishment recite those old, familiar scripts, e.g., "the paddle is necessary to preserve order," "some children don't understand anything else," "corporal punishment is the schoolteacher's tool of last resort," "spanking teaches children right from wrong," etc. Such claims are specious. They are flatly contradicted by the research, and disproved by the example of education systems throughout the modern world where professional teachers neither use, want to use, nor are allowed to use physical punishments.

The most serious and most frequently overlooked unintended consequence of school corporal punishment is its validation of the practice in families. Parents who physically abuse and even injure their children can rationalize that they were merely following the good example of schoolteachers. After all, if trained, credentialled professionals do it, what can be so wrong?

We believe that governments and education regulatory and policy making agencies have a moral obligation to set a high standard for teachers, who in turn set a good example for parents. All parties reap the benefits. A low standard, however, such as one that permits teachers to batter students, serves to degrade the entire teaching profession, creates an environment that is congenial to mediocrity and offers a unique opportunity for certain people who derive perverse pleasure from inflicting pain on others.

Please carefully consider the real effects of corporal punishment: bullying, vandalism, attacks on teachers, school drop-out, poor academic performance, chemical dependence, eating disorders, suicide risk, poor social skills, poor impulse control, cruelty to animals, deviant sexuality, date rape, road rage, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, reduced likelihood of college acceptance, increased likelihood of arrest, poor employment prospects, domestic violence, child abuse, failed marriages and poor health. It is no coincidence that the states with the highest incarceration rates, highest murder rates, highest domestic violence rates and highest illiteracy rates are among those with the highest pupil beating rates. (John Guthrow's "Correlation between high rates of corporal punishment in public schools and social pathologies" provides a detailed analysis of these data. It can be read online at

Please examine the photographs of punishment-related injuries to schoolchildren shown on the attached page. Please act now to protect the schoolchildren of Pennsylvania from such maltreatment.


Jordan Riak, Executive Director
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE)
P.O. Box 1033, Alamo, CA 94507
Tel: 925-831-1661   E-mail:   Web site:

Scroll down to attached page.

WARNING: The images of injured children shown below are extremely upsetting to some viewers. Children must not see them.


See Response to the above letter from State Senator Allyson Y. Schwartz, 4th District, May 31, 2002

See (Pennsylvania) School spankings: an outdated option?, By susan Baldridge and Amy Leeking, Staff Writers, Lancaster New Era, May 16, 2002

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