What Parents Can Do
Does your school district use Corporal Punishment? Here are some things you can do:
- Check with your school district's administration office to see if corporal punishment is allowed.
- If it is, get a copy of the discipline code and any policy which deals with how and when corporal punishment can be administered. You may be able to write a letter stating that you do not want your child to receive corporal punishment. Even if the principal says the district does not have to honor your wishes, write a letter. If possible, have your family physician or pediatrician sign it.
- If your child has a disability - if he or she has an individual education plan (IEP) or if your child has attention deficit disorder - ask that the child's plan include a statement saying that he/she is not to receive corporal punishment. If the school district refuses or if they paddle your child anyway, request a due process hearing. Request that the school district give you a written copy of your rights for a due process hearing procedure.
- Tell your child that you do not want him/her paddled and tell him/her to tell you if it happens. Sometimes children are afraid to tell their parents.
- If your child is injured: Take the child to your physician or to an emergency room. Have colored pictures taken of the injury. If you take the pictures yourself, have a witness in case this is needed for court at a later date. Ask the physician to report the injury to the police and the child protective agency. To be sure it is reported, report it yourself. Find out if there were witnesses to the paddling. Be sure to have a copy of the school district's discipline policy. You may need to get your own attorney if the prosecutor does not file charges.
- Talk with your child. He may be fearful that you will blame him/her. While your child may have deserved punishment for misbehavior, assure him/her that he/she should not have been paddled leading to injury. If you notice sleeplessness, bedwetting, school avoidance or aggressive behavior, see a psychologist or psychiatrist who deals with post traumatic stress syndrome in children.
Sample Letter to My Child's Teacher
Our family does not believe that school children should be disciplined by paddling. We believe that it sends children the message that hitting people is a way to solve problems.
We know that our child will make mistakes. When that happens, we hope you will help our child learn what is appropriate behavior and how to act more appropriately in the future. If you are having problems with our child, please contact me/us and I/we will make every effort to come to school to help you. Do not paddle our child.
Tennesseans for Nonviolent School Disicpline www.forkidsake.org