Posted tagged ‘Peter Newell’

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

June 4, 2011

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

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



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

June 3, 2011

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.