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An Alternative to Corporal Punishment

I was never a big fan of spankings in school, mostly because I was on the receiving end (no pun intended). But I’ve always wondered if the discipline problems in schools can be directly linked to the elimination to corporal punishment.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe teachers should be allowed to paddle children. Regardless of the liability issues, no one else should be allowed to spank another parent’s child. But it seems that one teacher is taking the alternative too far.

She’s suing a 13-year-old student for running into her.

According to a March 29 story in the Camden (New Jersey) Courier-Post (Official Motto: What the #&*@! are you lookin’ at?!), second-grade teacher Eileen Blau is suing Daniel Allen because he “negligently and carelessly” collided with her at an “excessive rate of speed” on April 11, 2001.

Daniel was 11 years old at the time, and weighed about 90 pounds.

Blau says the injuries cost her money for medical care, and curtailed her normal activities. She claims to have suffered “severe and multiple injuries, some of which are permanent in nature.”

News reports did not describe Blau’s personal injuries or say what her normal activities involved, but if she goes around suing little kids, one might assume it involves broomsticks and boiling cauldrons. I could be wrong though.

According to Daniel’s mom, Stacy Allen, the school’s principal assured her the incident was accidental. Daniel was running to catch the school bus to go home. He told reporters that he had cried in the principal’s office the following day when he found out Blau was hurt.

“I’m sorry I ran into her,” Daniel said. “I don’t think she should be suing me. I didn’t want to hurt anybody. It was an accident.”

Stacy also said Blau had filed a claim with the Allen’s insurance company for her injuries in the fall of 2001, several months after the incident. She also said her insurance company said the claim had not been settled.

Stacy said she never told her son about what Blau had done with the insurance company, or the claims she made. However, that all came to an end when a Camden County sheriff’s deputy served Daniel with a summons on a Wednesday morning.

I can’t blame Blau entirely. I’d be pretty upset if I were injured, and my my medical bills had gone unpaid for two years. However, I wouldn’t sue a 13-year-old kid over it, I’d go after the insurance company. What does she get if he wins? His Pokemon cards and the Victoria’s Secret catalog collection hidden under his mattress?

While students will think nothing of suing teachers over poor grades, class rankings, or failure to make the cheerleading squad, the idea of teachers suing students is completely new. Steven Baker, a spokesman for the 162,000 member New Jersey Education Association, said “I’ve never heard of a situation like this before. I assume it is quite uncommon.”

“I think it’s terrible that a teacher can sue a student,” said Stacy. “Maybe he should not have been running in the hall, but I think it was an accident. When you send a kid off to school, you expect him to be supervised and taken care of. You never expect a teacher to sue a child for running into her.”

So who’s fault is this? Sure, Daniel is to blame because he was running when he shouldn’t have, but it wasn’t intentional. That’s why they’re called “accidents.”

But shouldn’t Blau shoulder some of the burden? Like being aware of her surroundings, and knowing she was on a collision course with a 90-pound dynamo who frequently travels at “an excessive rate of speed?” Or maybe she should have used her authority and not allowed kids to run in the halls in the first place? Or did this happen outside, where kids usually run, and never worry about plowing into each other, let alone a lawsuit-happy educator? If that’s the case, she shouldn’t be surprised this even happened.

Regardless, Blau was someone who dedicated herself to shaping the lives of young children, and now she has decided to sue them instead. If anything, I think Blau should be ashamed for bringing a lawsuit, and should receive a swift and harsh punishment for it.

Like writing “I will not sue young children” on the blackboard 5000 times.

About Erik Deckers (25 Posts from 2002 - 2003)
Musing about current events and personal observations for nearly 20 years, Erik Deckers' Laughing Stalk never ceases to entertain the masses with tales of philosophy, parenting and Xena, Warrior Princess. Remember Xena?