Stories of ending C. P. in schools, final conference wrap-up

Posted June 4, 2011 by atreed
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Today’s mid-morning session on ending corporal punishment in schools turned out to be equal parts informational and entertaining. Texas State Representative Dr. Alma Allen and Louisiana State Representative Barbara Norton were more than willing to cover some of the achievements they had already made within their State laws- and what their plans are for the next step.

Dr. Allen, a former schoolteacher and administrator from Houston, has been serving since 2004 and has been a steady voice in campaigning for an end to corporal punishment in Texas schools. Her presentations was part recent history and part motivational speech- the accompanying slideshow gave a detailed breakdown of the diligence, innovation, and outright political maneuvering needed to pass anti-C.P. laws. (One example was her choice to abandon the term ‘anti-C.P.’ altogether, instead going for using ‘Parental Rights’. This was  a seemingly inconsequential but important step in getting her bill passed.) She recalled her many challenges with great humor and a positive outlook, such as how in the beginning she only had one ally within the Texas House, and had to go up against a house of 150 Representatives- 101 of whom were Republican, some who were apparently not even aware that corporal punishment was still taking place.

Rep. Norton had a story that took place on an overall smaller scale, but was nonetheless equally as important. Her talks with teachers in Caddo Parish (her district) left her in shock when she discovered that physical punishment was still taking place in the school system. A humorous if not slightly terrifying account of her direct confrontation with the local superintendent (“He had been there all of three months…I don’t think he was expecting to see someone like me with blood in her eyes,”) was one of the highlights of the session.

“School isn’t set up to raise children, it’s here to teach children!” said Norton.

A simultaneous lecture on strategies towards ending C.P. in Homes featuring Dr. Joan Durrant, Milena Grillo, Peter Newell, and Mali Nilsson took place in the Continental Room here at the Fairmont.

The conference wrapped up around noon in the Gold Room with closing remarks and the passing of a resolution banning corporal punishment by an emotional Dr. George Holden, who was proud to have chaired this conference but at the same time was ‘very relieved’ that the next Summit would have someone else chairing it. He announced that a second Summit would take place in two years in another country, although an exact location had not been determined as of yet. (The possibility of an African country was mentioned.) Much comment was given to the usage of social networking and technology to keep the movement alive and running throughout the next few years.

The final minutes were spent rounding up multiple resolutions and ideas created in the ‘break-out’ sessions that took place throughout the conference. These included terms and ideals such as multi-faith dialogue, hardline U.S. support, a unified language/standpoint on the subject, information accuracy, and most of all, a call for a direct and encompassing ban on corporal punishment in not just the home and the school but in all facets of human life.

I believe that that just about wraps things up for this blog. Again, I’d like to thank Dr. Holden for giving me the chance to cover such an important summit, and I feel that I’m walking away with a lot more information about a subject that quite honestly doesn’t get the coverage it deserves. I believe that this first Global Summit has potential to be only the first stepping stone for something much larger, and I’m looking forward to seeing the continuation and evolution of this movement. Thanks for stopping by and reading, and I wish you all good luck!

A couple of final links for future news:

Save The Children Resource Centre

EndCorporalPunishment.org

The Global Summit website will continue to stay up as well and will have more announcements and updates in the future.

 

‘Engaging Faith Communities’ an important look at conflict between religious tradition and modern child ethics

Posted June 4, 2011 by atreed
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This morning’s early events were ‘break-out’ sessions divided into five different lectures: Engaging Parents, Engaging Faith Communities, Engaging Cultural Communities, Engaging Teachers, Doctors & Other Professionals, and Engaging Youth. I chose to attend Engaging Faith Communities, which took place in the Far East Room here at the Fairmont and featured Chris Dodd, Rita Swan, and Raffi Cavoukian.

There were some pretty interesting ideas on display here. Chris Dodd led off with a brief lecture on how working with religious leaders and their respective communities to end corporal punishment was incredibly important for the overall cause. Rita Swan followed up with some interesting anecdotes on how she was able to collaborate with the Methodist Church community to pass an anti-CP resolution in 2004. While the resolution was indeed passed and still holds true today, Swan lamented the continuing obstacles hindering discourse with faith communities today, such as the pro-CP stance of James Dobson, a notable fundamentalist conservative. Among some literature she recommended to counter Dobson’s arguments were Thy Rod And Thy Staff by Samuel Martin and How Would Jesus Raise Your Child? by Teresa Whitehurst.

Swan was also adamant to remind the attendees that direct, uninhibited confrontation with the religious community would in all likelihood hinder future discourse.

“We will never engage with faith communities if we begin  talks by saddling them with guild for using corporal punishment,” said Swan.

Raffi Cavoukian gave more detail on his Centre for Child Honouring and how he was inspired to create such an institution. Looking back at his young childhood attending an ‘imposing’ Armenian church in Egypt with ‘fearful, child-unfriendly’ clerks dressed completely in black, Cavoukian pondered the nature of some church-made ‘commandments’ and their credibility.

“You can’t force anybody to feel what  they don’t feel,” Cavoukian said in response to some of the more dogmatic church laws.

“We are born for creativity…our call of duty is to conscience, not authority.”

Cavoukian then provided two plaques inscribed with a ‘plea to faith leaders’ to end CP and all forms of child violence and a pro-child honoring ‘proclamation’ that he hopes will be signed by well over 100,000 faith leaders.

(The manner in which he held the plaques made him look like Moses with the Ten Commandment tablets- a humorous visual which both he and the audience had a laugh about.)

“It’s how we see the child that may inform how we live as human beings,” said Cavoukian.

“Neuroscience has shown us what Aboriginal cultures have already known for centuries- we have a sacred bond with the child.”

I’m off to the Gold Room to cover one of the final panels of the conference, ‘Brainstorming Strategies toward Ending C. P. in Schools’. Texas and Louisiana State Representatives Dr. Alma Allen and Barbara Norton will be joining Nadine Block as panelists. I’ll be back with more coverage on that later today!

Encouraging updates on status of anti-corporal punishment laws around the world

Posted June 3, 2011 by atreed
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Today’s opening panel was pretty data-heavy but nonetheless a strong recap of the continuing effort to promote anti-CP laws across the world.

Peter Newell’s opening statements on the overall global perspective showed an interesting combination of both frustration and hope. While Newell was happy to announce the further movements taking place (mainly in Europe), he lamented the many obstacles and overall speed of the process.

“These landmark judgments that have been made already [in the aforementioned 29 anti-CP countries] show how much more could be actively happening if more activism was taking place,” Newell said.

“Nothing is more frustrating (to me) than seeing these opportunites missed through a lack of advocacy.”

Sonia Vohito kept a very upbeat tone in presentation on the recent anti-CP laws passed in Tunisia and Kenya. Her careful analysis on the two very different paths that both countries took to get the laws passed was a fascinating study in the many methods that can be employed to achieve success in this situation. For instance, while Tunisia took a more conventional route in passing their laws with steady advocacy and lobbying over many years to get an anti-CP law passed in July 2010, Kenya automatically included a universal child rights clause in their revised, progressive Bill of Rights when their new Constitution was ratified in August 2010. Vohito admitted that many large obstacles still remained in the process, such as cultural and religious opposition and an overall lack of weak enforcement structure and capability, but remained optimistic about the future of these laws. (She also mentioned that similar laws and revisions were currently under consideration in Cameroon, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Swaziland, and Uganda.)

Beth Wood had an interesting retrospective on how New Zealand was faring four years after their May 2007 banning of corporal punishment nationwide. While she praised the efforts of a long, drawn out campaign which included extensive lobbying and social awareness events, she conceeded that the current results (and overall enforcement) of the new laws in New Zealand were mixed at best. One of the hindrances to the campaign in New Zealand was a bizarre, oddly worded 2009 referendum: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?” Due to the loaded wording and overall apathy to vote on the referendum by the general public, 89% of the votes were for ‘No’. Wood cited obvious political ploys such as this and other obvious resistances to the law, namely (1) people who think hitting in moderation is effective, (2) people who resent state control of the family, and (3) conservative, Christian agendas. Despite all the challenges that still exist in New Zealand, Wood praised the passing of the law and was confident that the aftereffects of the law being passed were only just beginning to be realized.

It was announced that a fourth speaker, Milena Grillo, had to cancel at the last minute due to personal reasons. Her segment was to be on ‘Success in Costa Rica’.

The morning session was moderated by Joan Durrant, Ph. D.

The Summit Opens: Corporal Punishment, Nonviolence, & Children’s Rights

Posted June 3, 2011 by atreed
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What a whirlwind night!

So many great moments at the opening tonight. Dr. Holden’s exuberant (and, at time emotional) opening speech. SMU Provost Dr. Paul Ludden’s anecdote on the ever-increasing disciplines of Dallas teachers. The standing ovations for Murray Straus, Nadine Block, and Peter Newell.

And let’s not forget the flags. What I had originally thought to be a small, generic international flag set turned out to elicit some of the most emotional responses of the night. The 29 flags inserted in the stand stood for the 29 countries that have now fully banished corporal punishment within their boundaries. Much like the rug from ‘The Big Lebowski’, this unassuming set seemed to tie the room together- speaker Mali Nilsson was more than proud to announce that her native country of Sweden (where she serves as an advocator for Save The Children) was the first country to abandon corporal punishment.

Internationally popular children’s singer Raffi Cavoukian kissed the tiny set during an exuberant mini-set he performed for the audience, mixing hits like ‘Counting on You’ and ‘Human Child’ with personal reflections on what led him to become such a prominent voice in the fight for children’s rights. (And wow, I didn’t know he’d racked up such an impressive set of awards and honors.) There was many a time during his performance where the audience themselves were drawn in to sing along with him. He also spoke in great detail about the Centre for Child Honouring, which he helped to found. It looks like a great start to help start spreading alternative influence against many of the child-rearing methods many take for granted.

The last two speakers of the night really shocked me. When I sat down with my laptop ready to watch and observe today, I didn’t have a clue that some of the biggest surprises of the night were going to be the performances and efforts of an 11-year-old and a 17-year-old. However, future Hockaday student Dawn Ford and New Zealand ‘youth crusader’ Johny O’Donnell easily garnered some of the biggest accolades of the night.

Ford, with a stage presence and command well beyond her years, gave a straightforward and humorous speech on how her parents raised her without physical discipline and how it made her into the person it is today. (A great rule for parents to use when disciplining their children, courtesy of Ford: “Know the rules, follow the rules, reap the awards!”) She then broke out into a rendition of Yolanda Adams’ ‘What About The Children’ that brought the audience to their feet. (Her sisters also provided an interpretative dance performance in front of the stage.)

O’Donnell began his story with a Maori prayer, then went on to describe how he ended up leaving high school early and becoming a (very) young ambassador for the children and youth of New Zealand with his leading role in forming SAVE- ‘Students Against Violence Everywhere’ – in 2009. Johny has played a big part in persuading the New Zealand government to recently ban corporal punishment from their country, and has been touring both his country and the world, raising awareness about children’s rights to both youth and adult groups alike. He’ll be speaking in the Engaging Youth lecture at 8:30a.m. on Saturday about his continued efforts in New Zealand. (Raffi will be speaking in a similar lecture, Engaging Faith Communities, at the same time. There are also three other lectures scheduled for that time block. What to choose??)

In short, a lot of amazing and unexpected things happened at tonight’s opening. I can only expect to see more over the next two days. See you tomorrow!

Past memories and future therapy collide in ‘Love and Punishment’

Posted June 2, 2011 by atreed
Categories: Conference News

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The pre-conference screening of Love and Punishment has just wrapped up here in the Gold Room of the Fairmont Hotel. Co-directors Dr. Micel Meignant and Mario Viana made a compelling case for an end to spanking and other forms of corporal punishment in their native country of France, and Viana himself made up an important part of the film as his sessions in a new form of therapy, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing), helped him to overcome trauma from his  memories of physical abuse by former teachers in his childhood. The film covers a wide spread of viewpoints from psychologists, doctors and therapists from around the world, and makes a point of gauging the reaction of the French public to new movements made to end corporal punishment in the country. (29 countries around the world have banned all forms of corporal punishment- it is Meignant’s hope that the movement will continue to spread in  France as well.) The film provides a wealth of information on the subject and is presented in a conversational, lucid tone. A brief Q&A with Dr. Meignant followed the screening.

The official conference is expected to start at 7 p.m. here in the Gold Room, and I’ll post a blog on that after it ends at 9 p.m.

Also of note- There will be post-conference entertainment tonight from 9 p.m. to midnight at Sambuca Uptown (2120 McKinney St, a courtesy trolley ride from the Fairmont Hotel will get you there in no time.) Three hours of entertainment and information will be mixed throughout the night, some examples include: Texas HB 359, The Paddle Dance, Musical Child Protective Laws, Is There A Doctor In The House?, Unlimited Justice, The Skin Of A Drum, and The Danger Zone. You can also participate in on-location filming for an upcoming documentary by requesting to speak upon arrival at the door. Drinks and appetizers will be served. For more information, visit www.TheHittingStopsHere.com. (Email at info@thehittingstopshere.com or call at 408-509-6835 as well.)

The stage is being reset and camera tripods are showing up now for what should be a great opening segment. I’ll have more for you later!

Welcome to Dallas!

Posted June 2, 2011 by atreed
Categories: Conference News

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Good morning, and welcome to the blog for the Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline!

The purpose of this blog will be to provide news and occasional commentary throughout the events, lectures and presentations provided throughout the conference. Updates and potential schedule changes will also be provided if necessary.

My name is Austin Reed, and I’ll be your host throughout this blog. I ‘technically’ graduated from SMU this past Spring semester with a major in Business Journalism and a double-minor in Business and Film Studies. (I still have to wrap up a couple of classes in a short July summer session, after which I will officially receive my diploma.)  I’ve contributed works and enditing for the Daily Mustang and the Daily Campus (both SMU student publications) and recently wrapped up an internship blogging for the SMU Forum, which is considered the news division for SMU faculty, staff, and general populace.

While the word ‘business’ appears twice in what will be my official diploma, I like to have an active and open mind when it comes to journalism, blogging, and writing itself. I’m consistently fascinated with stories from all facets of the news world, whether it be business, sports, or indeed, science. I was offered this position by an SMU professor of Psychology (and the Chair of this conference), Dr. George W. Holden. I am thankful for the opportunity he gave me to contribute to this endeavor, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to rise to the task.

I’ve placed a couple of links on the side of this blog to the Summit homepage and to the SMU Division of Psychology for further information. Also, here is a direct link to the conference program and a handy primer for travel and parking for Downtown Dallas (it’s not that bad here, I promise!)

I’ll be providing more coverage beginning tomorrow with the Summit’s first event, a screening of the documentary Love & Punishment at 4:30 p.m.

If you have any questions, complaints or suggestions for this blog, feel free to email cpsummit@smu.edu or reedaustin89@gmail.com.

Looking forward to seeing you later today!


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