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A Letter to Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen on Corporal Punishment

A Mr. Carl Bowman recently wrote us and asked us to disseminate this letter as a way of spreading the word on how corporal punishment (a nice term for the beating of children) in Tennessee really works. Although it's not the letter we would have written, we're happy to oblige.

Mr. Bowman is trying to organize opposition to corporal punishment in Tennessee. If you'd like to lend a hand, write to him via the e-mail address at the bottom of his letter.

A Letter to Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen from Carl Bowman

Greetings Mr. Bredesen,

I will shortly be sending a formal letter to you but I wanted to send this e mail to quickly explain the situation. Last year my son was paddled because, although he did his work correctly, he didn't get a homework assignment signed. It wasn't his fault; he brought the paper to me and asked me to sign it. I was in the middle of reports for work and told him I would sign it later. I didn't do it.

The principal of Lake Road Elementary, Mr. Ronnie Yoes, paddled him for this. The school board handbook stated at the time that a parent/teacher conference must first be held before a paddling is administered and this was not done. Do you want the parents to be more involved in schools? If my son had not told me about it I would have never known he had an altercation. When I spoke to Mr. Tommy Victory, the vice principal, his response was "if he contacted the parents every time he gave a paddling he would be on the phone all day long."

In addition I had a paper requesting no corporal punishment for my child. I could have filed suit for several reasons, but I'm not that type of person.

I took this to the principal and then to the interim head of the Obion county schoolboard. Their response was that new policies were being enacted to improve the system. This year their handbook states that EVERY type of infraction no matter how small can result in a corporal punishment and that no notice need be given to parents that an infraction occured.

Why I am against corporal punishment in schools:

  1. I am not against corporal punishment but I feel it should be done in the home only. I believe it sends a mixed message to children. The school system represents the government body in our society to a child. Children hit by members of authority are then being told that assault isn't allowed, that everyone is protected against "cruel and unusual punishment" in our governmental society and that they have a right to a fair trial.
  2. In the case of child abuse, who can a child turn to if both the government and the parent hits the child? As a child who would they feel they could trust?
  3. In our society no adult is never struck except as a means of self-defense. Even the most hardened criminals are immune from such treatment. Why? because the government decided it was cruel and inhumane punishment. Yet each day, we tell our children with each governmental paddling that they are subhuman in the eyes of the law and are accordingly treated as such. Can you picture being pulled over for speeding and a police officer deciding to crack you over the head rather than allow for a trial or a ticket?
  4. In the case of my son he was beaten without any due process, without even being found quilty. He was then sent back to class to learn how our wonderful free government allows for fair and due process and the right to a fair trial and humane punishment.

My intentions:

I will be placing an ad in the local paper announcing a public meeting inviting anyone who has questions about corporal punishment to attend. I will invite any organizations opposed to corporal punishment to provide guest speakers.

I will then place another ad announceing the success of this meeting and the number of attendees. In this ad I will announce a second meeting for anyone else to attend who didn't get to attend the first one.

I will at both meetings start a petition against corporal punishment in schools and turn over copies of this instrument to Tennessee chapters against corporal punishment in which to get further petition signatures. The final petition will be given to you for review.

Let's wake up and make an attempt to squish all of the hillbilly inbred jokes about Tennessee that abound out there and let the world know we are joining them in the 21st century. We are one of the last few hold outs on corporal punishment along with (interestingly enough) other states in which backward inbred jokes abound: Alabama and Mississippi.

Your response will be greatly appreciated.


Carl Bowman
P.O. Box 42
Woodland Mills, TN. 38271
E-mail: Yarddog618 at

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