Riak's letter to Dallas Morning News re: "DISD may end paddling"
June 18, 2003

(Published on June 22, under the title "End it in DISD," and with first names supplied for Grier and Cobbs, respectively William and Price. Otherwise the letter was unchanged.)

The Dallas Morning News, 6/18/03: "Dallas Independent School District may end paddling"

Dear Editor:

Surely informed citizens' reaction to the prospect of a ban against disciplinary beating in the schools of the Dallas Independent School District must be, "Well it's about time." If 28 states can manage students without hitting them - and most of the civilized world has been doing that for decades - so can Dallas.

The observation by some black trustees that there is a cultural preference for whipping in the black community seems odd to me. According to authors Grier and Cobbs, in their famous book, Black Rage, whipping has its psychological roots in slavery. If that's true, why then would anyone want to perpetuate the ugliest legacy of the plantation era at the expense of their own innocent children?

Trustee Ron Price said "If it's not broke, don't fix it." I think that's a rather cavalier approach to children's safety. If one waits until something is broken, for instance, the tailbone, the sciatic nerve or blood vessels in the buttocks, one has waited too long. I am certain Mr. Price would view the situation differently if someone twice his size were about to hit him with a board.

DISD School Board President Hollis Brashear worries that some would think "we might be making a mountain out of a molehill." Speaking as a parent and grandparent, I can't understand how anyone could dismiss child beating as a "molehill."

Trustee Lew Blackburn, a former assistant principal, said, "It was used on me, and I think I turned out OK." Someone should remind Mr. Blackburn that self-diagnosis is notoriously untrustworthy. Maybe he should get a second opinion.

As a child, I lived in a family of smokers. There were ashtrays in every room and tobacco smoke was always in the air. And the walls of my home were painted with lead-based paint, and I never wore a crash helmet when I rode my bike to school, and the family car didn't have seat belts. And I turned out OK. So what does that prove? Were my folks smart or lucky?

Responsible people don't do those things anymore. They know better. The same applies to hitting children.


Jordan Riak, Exec. Dir., Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE), P.O. Box 1033, Alamo CA 94507-7033, Tel.: 925-831-1661; FAX: 925-838-8914. Web Site: "Project NoSpank" at www.nospank.net.

A copy of the above letter with a copy of Plain Talk about Spanking and a page showing school punishment-related injuries were sent on 6/19/03 by Express Mail to Superintenent Mike Moses and each trustee of the DISD at 3700 Ross Ave., Dallas, TX 75204.

Dallas Morning News Editor's email: letterstoeditor@DallasNews.com

See Dallas Independent School District may end paddling - Some black trustees say corporal punishment is part of their culture

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