SMU Calls in Experts for Global Summit Calling For a Ban on Corporal Punishment

Categories: Events, Politics
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Photos by Leslie Minora
Raffi Cavoukian, children's singer and advocate, performed for the crowd at the SMU Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment last night.
Well, that was certainly...unexpected. Last night I went to the SMU-hosted Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline and wound up being treated to a presentation by none other than kiddie performer Raffi, who, as it turns out, is a children's-rights advocate when he's not entertaining the wee ones with his poppy positivity.

Raffi Cavoukian (that's his full name) founded the Centre for Child Honouring and was in Dallas for first-of-its-kind summit, which runs through Sunday at the Fairmont Hotel. The Hilltop has gathered academics, policy makers, educators and advocates from 21 different countries to explore the issue of corporal punishment -- and why it ought to be stopped. 

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George Holden, the event's organizer
Following an introduction by George Holden, the SMU psychology professor who organized the event and wrote this piece about why Texas schools should ban corporal punishment. After a brief hello to the crowd of about 100 people at the summit's kick-off, Cavoukian broke into song. "This little light of mine," he began, "I'm gonna let it shine." Before long, many in the crowd were singing and swaying along. 

"There's nothing little about the light of being human, is there?" he asked. "I think we need to inspire the world to do well by the child." Cavoukian, as energetic and excited a public speaker as he is a performer, sang and danced up and down the center aisle between rows of chairs. Buttoned-up academics and educators went along for the ride. But, of course, the light presentation came with a serious message.

Mali Nilsson, the chair of Save the Children in Sweden and a global leader on ending corporal punishment, reminded the audience, "More than 90 [countries] still authorize the beating of children in schools...29 [countries] have achieved full prohibition." Nilsson calls corporal punishment "the most common and widespread violence against children." Corporal punishment, she said, "disguises violence as discipline." 

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Fifth-grader, Dawn Ford, spoke and performed at the summit.
The evening of speeches about abuse against children wouldn't have been complete without hearing the perspective of a child. Dawn Ford, a Dallas fifth-grader who won second place at this year's Gardere MLK Jr. Oratory competition, gave her insight in a speech that left the crowd staring -- and smiling -- at each other in awe.

"Quite frankly, I believe that corporal punishment should be abolished. Period. End of story," she said. Though her parents never spanked or beat her, Ford said, "I have always known how important it is to follow the rules...We don't mind consequences, we just don't want to be hit."

"I could talk on this subject all night, but they only gave me a few minutes," she concluded, cuing music for her sweet performance of "What About the Children" with two interpretive dancers.

Raffi had some competition.
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22 comments
dawnfordloves2000
dawnfordloves2000

Hi! I am Dawn Ford, the fifth grader who spoke at the summit. Seriously, I kid you not. I am reflecting back on what I had done as a younger girl (I am fourteen, now) and let me just tell you that even though a few years have passed since i spoke, I still go by every word I said. Corporal punishment should be done with.

David Justin Lynch
David Justin Lynch

The Episcopal Church needs to teach unambiguously that hitting children is wrong, period --- in whatever context. That is not how Jesus treated children. Nor should our society permit it, ever.

Alcrowell
Alcrowell

So great to have a conference where children are not seen as the enemy of adults. Why are we adults at war with our own children. We are supposedly the bigger, older, and more mature ones. Can they really outtalk us? out fox us? threaten us?

Bettyh
Bettyh

This was a marvelous Global Summit with people from almost all over the world attending. There was a great feeling of carmaraderie as people came together to pool information and encouragement to their fellow workers.

Paula Flowe
Paula Flowe

McDoom, what a sad thing to say about your unborn child.  How will you treat him when he gets here.  God bless that child.Paula Flowe

jblanken11
jblanken11

Oh my , another brilliant expenditure of time from the hallowed halls of academia. Perhaps these "summit" attendees would profit more from something like a REAL JOB !

Julie Ann Worley
Julie Ann Worley

TX HB 359 is awaiting Texas Governor Perry’s signature to enact it as law, giving Parents the Right to Prohibit Corporal/Physical Pain as Punishment/Paddling of their children by school employees, already approved in the House of Reps and the Senate.Search and read a couple of pages of “A Violent Education”. The report includes a Texas school incident where a young boy was sent home from school with his underwear stuck to his swollen and bruised testacles with dried blood from a school paddling for a minor infraction. The same child was paddled about a week later for some other minor infraction such as not having his shirt tucked in. He became fearful of going to school and was removed and homeschooled by his family.According to the TX Attorney General’s Office, corporal punishment becomes abusive “only if ‘observable and material impairment’ occurs as a result.”In the Texas Penal Code section 9.62, there is considerable leeway given in the educator/student relationship to use force in some situations, according to Sgt. Joe Snyder, public information officer for the Wichita Falls Police Department.An educator is given permission to use “force, but not deadly force, against a person,” according to the Code. “The use of ‘force but not deadly force’ would seem to say you can use any force except killing them,” Snyder said.Parents who take their children to the hospital for emergency medical treatment as a result of school paddling and attempt to file abuse/assault charges against the school employees are told that no charges can be filed as state law allows corporal punishment of schoolchildren with absolutely no safety standards, training, testing or certification. Federal Courts uphold outrageous instances of school child abuse under the guise of “Discipline” and the U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear School Corporal Punishment appeals as states are allowed to maintain laws that are in clear violation of our nation’s constitutional guarantees to every citizen, except schoolchildren!Convicted felons, murderers and child molesters, are protected by Federal Law in every state from being subjected to Corporal Punishment in U.S. prisons!Corporal/Physical Pain as Punishment/Paddling of schoolchildren is still legal in schools 19 U.S. States in 21st Century Classrooms!If school employees hit students with wooden paddles to deliberately inflict PAIN AS PUNISHMENT in view of the public rather than within the walls of a tax-payer funded school building it would be criminal felony assault, they’d be arrested and imprisoned as any other person be they a Parent, Police Officer, Lawmaker or U.S. Supreme Court Justice!Corporal Punishment is already Illegal in Schools in 31 U.S. States.Several “School Paddling States” Prohibit School Paddling in their Capitol Cities, violating equal rights. Corporal Punishment is discriminatorily applied to boys, minorities, disabled and low-income students and is ineffective, the same students are paddled repeatedly.Please add your voice to the national campaign to End School Paddling of Children at Unlimited Justice dot com.

Glenn Hunter
Glenn Hunter

"Raffi" ... "This little light of mine"... "Child Honouring" ... etc. etc. This conference is a giant put-on, isn't it?

scottindallas
scottindallas

I wish the harshest blows life deals us were nothing more than smacks on our ass.  Spankings are not the same as "beating" a child.  It seems animals are far more civilized than most human societies, and those mothers will snap at their kids occasionally. 

I rather like the idea of strangers beating my children.  In fact, if strangers beat our children it would teach them to be wary.  What is more complicated for a child to process is when family does it.  When I spank my kids, two boys, one girl, I explain exactly why.  This comes after repeated warnings, after time outs, and finally as a last resort.  It seems some offenses are more appropriate for spankings some time outs.  But sometimes, it takes a smack to get their attention. 

Don't be such pussies everyone.  Life is far more harsh than the physical blows most of us endure. 

McDoom
McDoom

I'm about to be a dad. I'm sure at some point the child will be a little shithead at school, and if it gets to be too much to handle, then call me at work. I'll come there and deal with the situation.

But do NOT fucking beat my kid.

TimCov
TimCov

We should ban corporal punishment, and bring in Sergeant Major punishment. Corporal punishment is to lenient.

Robert
Robert

Do any large Texas school districts still allow corporal punishment? The largest, Houston ISD, does not allow it.

scottindallas
scottindallas

I'm rather skeptical of your claims.  I doubt there is a major school district in Texas that paddles without prior parental consent.  This was true 35 years ago when I was in school.  The pendulum hasn't swung in the direction you fear.  Oh, there may be a few cases of abuse, and, you'd likely be mistaken about not being able to sue.  You shouldn't be able to sue for minor bruising, but gross negligence is typically offered different provisions under the law.  But, all those caveats aside, you've got a some biased advocacy.  I particularly like your most enlightening and shocking revelation that the point of spanking is to bring "PAIN AS PUNISHMENT"  Yeah, that's the idea.  Your also wrong about parents getting arrested for spanking your children--no one will arrest you for that.  Beat him with tire irons and bunch and assault him, then perhaps yes.  But, CPS will defend a parent's right to spank.  I'd be inclined to protect the disabled, but then again, if they are disabled, they may not be able to process words and subtler forms of persuasion.  I could see the benefit for mild slaps possibly.  Again, if severe bruising and abuse happen that is wrong, and is wrong for all time. 

guest
guest

Based on your posting, I would guess that you have no college degree - you certainly have not read anything about the dangers of using violence to rear human beings... did you know that 29 countries around the world have banned parental beatings, not just school beatings?  You are dead wrong about this issue, and if you were more educated, you would be embarrassed by your audacious display of ignorance.

trashtalk
trashtalk

We do need a consistent, orderly world, Scott, so the next time your employer can't get your attention through words, he/she will have the right to smack you, right?

Whoops, forgot, laying hands, fists, belts, paddles on adults is called _______. Fill in the blank and avoid prosecution.

And do you have the same rules for every one in your family? Wife get a little too uppity, and she gets slapped? How about grandma? Kick the dog much?

Those "hood-rats" you refer to generally come from very physically abusive homes, and their internal controls don't function very well. Hunger and deprivation play a role, also. Of course, according to you, punishment should have just left small bruises, not big ones, and their parents are to be congratulated for not being, as you so crudely put, "pussies."

guest
guest

As of right now, you have no say in whether your child is beaten in school, at least not under Texas law or US constitutional law. However, HB359 was passed a week ago and unless Perry vetoes it, it will become law and give parents a right to opt out of school beatings for their children - kudos to the Texas Legislatures for giving parents control over this issue at school.

Angharri5
Angharri5

yes my son has been hit and very bruised

guest
guest

Yes, many rural districts still use CP - but not Dallas, Houston, or other big cities. San Antonio did last I checked.  HB 359 was passed about a week ago... if Perry does not sign it within 30 days, it becomes law. It will give parents the RIGHT to opt out of CP at school for their kids... as of today, parents have no say in whether their child is beaten in school, at least not legally (schools may have a parental consent policy re: CP).

lindajlue
lindajlue

I was told by CPS that if I had inflicted those bruises on my child it would be considered child abuse. Do some research on lawsuits against school districts and you will find that Julie is correct.

guest
guest

A high school in Groveton (sp?)  beat a new child to the school so much that his mom had to drive 100 miles per day to get him into a safe school. She could barely afford the gas. But when she asked them to stop hitting the boy, who they beat so badly that he had huge blood blisters on his rear end, then hit him AGAIN on top of the blisters 2 days later, she was told they have the right and the parents cannot do anything about it. The boy and his mom testified before the legislature in Austin at some point as I recall. So yes, it is done w/o parental consent.

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