Banks County Opinions...

FEBRUARY 25, 2004


Editorial

The Banks County News
February 25, 2004

Candidates to start making announcements
It’s a major election year in Banks County and most local seats are up for re-election. Candidates are likely to start throwing their hats in the ring.
Qualifying is still more than two months away, but candidates will soon start lining up and offering their political announcements to be published. Our guidelines for this election season, will be the same as in the past.
We will run announcements up until the time qualifying ends. These announcements will be edited as are other news items submitted from the public. Photos may accompany the brief announcements.
We will not print letters of endorsement about a candidate. Guidelines for political advertisements will be available in a brochure available at our Homer office.
We will also not offer political endorsements. However, we will provide as much information as possible about the candidates so that our readers can make an informed choice. The candidates will be given the question and answer forms to fill out prior to the election. We hope they all fill them out so that the voters can see their stand on the issues of the campaign.

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Column

By:Rochelle Beckstine
The Banks County News
February 25, 2004

Children truly are second class citizens
In a bizarre twist, the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, apparently protects criminals incarcerated in jails, but not children attending schools, that is according to a U.S. Supreme Court decision made in 1977. Alarmingly, children are the only class of individuals that can be legally hit.
During the 1999-2000 school year, 25,189 children were paddled in Georgia schools, making it the eighth worst state to live in for school children although more than half of the school districts in Georgia ban the policy. So paddling is more than likely a very common practice in certain districts while the rest of the state isn’t even aware it is still going on. The worst state was Mississippi where nearly ten percent of children were paddled. Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Louisiana round out the top six. A total of 342,038 children were paddled that year.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child called for an end to corporal punishment of children worldwide. Last month, Canada outlawed it, leaving the United States and a small state in Australia the only industrialized nations still sanctioning it. To put the situation into perspective, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Pakistan outlawed the practice before Canada got around to it.
Twenty-eight states in the U.S. have banned its practice. Only 30 percent of U.S. schools use it, however 68 percent of the school districts in the southeast still believe the practice to be in the best interest of the child.
The Washington Post believes the regional schism is due to religion.
Cherry Moore, a Mississippi school teacher and a co-pastor, said in a Washington Post interview that she believes references in the Bible to ‘spoiling the child by sparing the rod’ “should outweigh the allegedly negative effects of corporal punishment cited by child development experts.” She wants the general public to ignore the studies that suggest children punished in this way suffer humiliation, helplessness, lower self-esteem, depression and increased rates of violence and aggression because of six Old Testament passages in the Book of Proverbs written by King Solomon. The only passages advocating hitting children are in Proverbs and presumably reflected Solomon’s own parental beliefs as regarded his son, Rehoboam, who went on to became a wildly hated ruler after his father’s death and fled his country to avoid assassination, as is also recorded in the Bible. In reality, schools that use corporal punishment have poorer academic achievement, more truancy, vandalism and student violence and higher dropout rates.
Ten to 15 children a day are often paddled at Carver Middle School in a poorer section of Mississippi for disrespect, disturbing the class, profanity or tardiness while more serious infractions are punished by suspension. Most of the 22 states that allow paddling require parental approval beforehand, but there are areas of Texas that do not. One mother expressly forbade the school to hit her daughter without notifying her, but an administrator paddled her 15-year-old daughter for wearing a T-shirt that partially exposed her midriff. The mother withdrew her child from school. I am ashamed of Texas.
Twenty-eight states have outlawed the practice since 1970 in what often started as grass roots campaigns. People contacted legislators and made it known that corporal punishment has no place in the school system. Wouldn’t it be nice for the Empire State of the South to be the first state to emphatically declare that hitting children at school is barbaric?
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.


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