Advice to a student who asks: "How can we protect ourselves from corporal punishment at school?"
September 2007

Mr. Riak,

Your website is a useful tool for parents, teachers, healthcare professionals, and others who need information regarding school corporal punishment. However, there does not seem to be much information for students. I would personally like to see some information on the site about how students can avoid being physically battered at school. Do you have any suggestions how I, as a high school student, can protect myself and classmates from physical assault? Thanks in advance for your reply!



Thank you for writing. I will try to give you some advice about how students can protect themselves from being battered. I have been involved with this issue for a long time, so I have a few ideas that might be helpful.

What to do when a paddling is imminent
When a student is informed that he or she is going to be paddled, and there's no opportunity for argument or appeal, that student should calmly announce:

Just so you know where this is leading, if you touch me, I will go straight to the police after school and identify you as the person who sexually assaulted me. My buttocks are a private, sexual area of my body, and I have known since I was a small child that if anyone tries to touch me there, I must not cooperate, and I must report it immediately.
A plan for individual self-protection
Ask your parent(s) to write to the school principal stating that under no circumstances are you to be corporally punished, and that if the school violates this instruction, it can expect an investigation by the police, a costly lawsuit and plenty of negative publicity. The letter should state that any touching or battering, painful or otherwise, with or without an instrument, of their child's buttocks will be regarded as a sexual assault or molestation of their child. Send copies to the school district superintendent, the school nurse, the president of the parents' association and the district attorney.

A plan for reforming the system
Try to recruit a few allies -- a few classmates, a sympathetic teacher or two, the school counselor, the school nurse, some parents. If nobody is willing to cooperate, and you have to go it alone, it will be much harder. But it's not impossible. Ultimately, you will win this struggle. Keep in mind, every important social reform began in the imagination of one determined individual. No exceptions. Society stopped burning witches, not because everybody awoke one morning believing it's wrong, but because somebody like you had the right idea, stuck to it, and found ways to make others listen. Same for ending slavery, outlawing lynching, giving women the vote, desegregating the schools, etc. Remember Rosa Parks?

Build a team of reasonable people who are capable of fairly evaluating the evidence against corporal punishment. Our free, easy-to-read booklet, "Plain Talk About Spanking," will give them the essential tools to debate the issue. Order a few copies to start, and let us know as you need more. Everyone can also read Plain Talk online at

Don't waste your time and energy arguing with people who believe hitting students is a good thing. They only listen to each other's nonsense. That nonsense is often just a disguise for other motives, such as a craving for power that can most easily be gratified by dominating and terrorizing children or the fear that their lack of teaching skills will become apparent the minute their weapons are taken away.

I began working on this issue many years ago when I had children enrolled in schools that punished students by hitting them with a stick. I produced a little leaflet that had some of the same ideas that are in Plain Talk, and handed out copies at school board meetings and parent association meetings. I gave copies to students as they boarded the school bus headed home, telling them to read it and give it to their parents. The message must have had an effect because that school stopped hitting kids. You can do the same at your school. Imagine the effect it would have if every parent of every student received a copy of "Plain Talk About Spanking"!

Feel free to use anything else you find useful on our Web site. Encourage others to visit, read and learn. Let us know how it goes. And if you develop new strategies that work, let us know about them so we can share that information with others.

Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir., PTAVE

See advice: Do not bend over By Jeff Charles



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