by Max Brantley
We heard an interesting interview on KUAR yesterday with the Murfreesboro school superintendent about the buttocks-bruising paddling of a 12-year-old there. She defended the beating as falling within school guidelines. But KUAR reports that a battery charge has been filed against the coach who administered it.
Meanwhile, circulating on the Internet is a letter to the Nashville newspaper about the paddling, also discussed here recently. The letter is from a Colorado resident who attended Pulaski County schools. Her letter:
Letter to writer John Balch of the Nashville Leader about the
Murfreesboro school paddling incident
By Barbara Neff, November 22, 2006
Hello, Mr. Balch.
Your article concerning Coach Davey Jones of Murfreesboro Schools striking a child on the buttocks with a board so hard the child suffered bruises is circulating the internet.
My personal hope is the family of the boy will prevail in the courts. However, experience has shown this to be unlikely in states such as Arkansas, where the striking of children by adults in schools is widely sanctioned legally and culturally.
Though the use of violent forms of "discipline" in your schools is shocking and sad, the saddest facet of this primitive practice is the failure of leaders to recognize the damage done to children. Responsible adults lead by example. Responsible adults teach children violence is never an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Responsible, compassionate parents and educators know the risk of damage to a child's self esteem outweighs any potential benefit from short term manipulation of a child's behavior through the use of fear, pain, bullying.
I attended Pulaski County (Arkansas) Public Schools in the sixties and seventies. Painful memories of teachers and coaches striking children, and preying on them in a variety of other ways, remain. At my thirty year reunion recently a former football player talked of being struck with a board on the buttocks so hard by a coach at our school he was bruised. Tears welled in this man's eyes as he spoke of his humiliation and how he struggled to cope as a teen with a brave face. This man, now fifty years old, is haunted by the brutal treatment.
Violence begets violence, Mr. Balch. How can we be so slow to catch on?
Thank you for your fine article. I hope you will continue to cover development of events surrounding the battering of the boy by Coach Davey Jones. Chances are, unfortunately, it will be the child who suffers ongoing indignities. He (and his family) will likely receive little support. The boy will likely be subjected to ridicule, labeled a "trouble-maker" and worse. My heart breaks for him. Will you find it in your heart to call for support for him within your community?
Castle Rock, Colorado