Parents and Teachers Against Violence (PTAVE)'s letter to the Missouri Legislature re: House Bill No. 1083

[On PTAVE stationery]

December 26, 2001

Dear Missouri Legislator:

We are writing to express our enthusiastic support for HB 1083, introduced by Representatives Fraser, Boucher and Ribak Wilson. The key provision, “No school shall include any reference to corporal punishment within its discipline policy, and no corporal punishment shall be administered within any school in this state,” expresses a standard that is taken for granted throughout the developed world. Consider the following:

a) Not one European nation permits teachers to strike pupils, and no teachers’ professional association in Europe, or elsewhere that we are
aware of, is lobbying for the removal of an existing ban.
b) No Teachers’ training curriculum in any accredited college or university in the United States instructs undergraduates how to hit pupils.
c) The only nation ever to briefly reintroduce corporal punishment after it had been banned was Germany during the Nazi era.
d) Opposing corporal punishment in schools are such organizations as: American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Committee for Prevention of Child Abuse, Children’s National Medical Center, American Association of Retired Persons, National Congress of Parents and Teachers Associations, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Mental Health Association, and American Psychological Association.

In spite of the consensus of informed opinion on this matter, we are certain that you will hear from some corporal punishment apologists who will insist that hitting is “used rarely and only as a last resort,” and that giving teachers the right to hit is “necessary to maintain order.” These are specious claims. Competent teachers don’t hit. Schools that attempt to maintain order by means of physical violence tend to be the most chaotic and ineffectual. School vandalism, bullying, attacks on teachers, drop out rate, poor academic performance, substance abuse, and a variety of other social pathologies correlate positively to the use of corporal punishment. As for the “used rarely” argument, according to the Office for Civil Rights l997 Elementary and Secondary School Civil Rights Compliance Report, 12,171 legal beatings were inflicted on Missouri students during the ‘96-‘97 school year. Since reporting was voluntary, one can assume that the true count was higher. With the passage of HB 1083 that number will be reduced to the only acceptable level, zero.

To conclude, I quote from Dr. Steve Berman’s letter to the New York Times of May 9, 2001. Dr. Berman is President of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Schools have no business meting out punishments on children that society has deemed too barbaric for use in prisons or the military. . . Americans are striving to teach children not to use violence to solve problems, not to bully others, and to respect themselves and other people. I don’t see how children can learn these lessons when the very people who give them guidance — their teachers and principals — are leaving them bruised and battered.”
Please help raise the standard of Missouri schools by supporting HB 1083. Sincerely,

Jordan Riak, Executive Director

enclosures [Copy of Plain Talk about Spanking and "Old Woman in a Shoe".]

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