Heavy Hitter of the Weak: Bernal Smith II PLUS Exclusive Interview

Bernal Smith II oversees the Memphis Academy of Health Sciences(a publicly funded charter school) that publicly whips and paddles students every Friday in the "Chapel" ritual. CBS affiliate WREG broke the story last week.

Tell Bernal Congrats!

BONUS! Exclusive Email Exchange Interview with Bernal Smith II

From the interview

DetentionSlip: Perhaps you could cite the 2 or 3 most influential studies you have reviewed which support the use of corporal punishment?

Bernal: No unfortunately I can't cite any studies.

The exclusive full interview is here....

This is the full email exchange that took place between DetentionSlip and Bernal Smith II on Wed. April 1st, 2009:

DetentionSlip : We are interested in talking to you with regard to the corporal punishment issue at your school.

Bernal: With this quote on your blog--- "The director of the board for MAHS, Bernal Smith II, was unavailable for comment on whether or not he beats his wife publicly when she is "out of line"." Are you serious???? Obviously in addition to having a warped sense of humor you are anti-corporal punishment and like some of the other folks we've encountered have no interest in the truth, but only in promoting lies and sensational fairy tales to denigrate our school and advance your agenda. No thank you.

DetentionSlip: Our main question for you would be: If there was an effective alternative to corporal punishment (i.e. as effective or more effective), wouldn't you feel required to use it?

Bernal: As long as it is lawful within the state of TN we will reserve the right to use corporal punishment as a component of our discipline program.

DetentionSlip: What I'm trying to find out though, is that if you felt there were better, more efficient means, if you'd still use corporal punishment. From the sound of that answer, it seems yes?

Bernal: Every available lawful option to maintain discipline, safety, security and order within our school will be effectively deployed.

DetentionSlip: You are a very smart guy. But could you answer the question with a yes or no? If there was a means of disciplining students that was proven to be more effective and have no long term negative effects, wouldn't this be a better option than corporal punishment.

In other words, when it is possible to discipline students WITHOUT corporal punishment, you wouldn't just use it anyway would you?

Bernal: We utilize DIVERSE forms of discipline and apply the appropriate form of discipline warranted at the time to bring about behavior modification, reflection and learning. These forms include at times corporal punishment.

DetentionSlip: When there are demonstrated effective alternatives to corporal punishment, is it your policy to use those FIRST?

How do you respond to the American Pediatrics Association, The American Psychology Association, and The United Nations, among others, whom all agree corporal punishment is not effective and should not be used?

Could you provide our readers with the body of research you are basing your claims that corporal punishment is "the appropriate form of discipline"?

Surely you teach the scientific method in your science curriculum; how do you justify your actions in the face of overwhelming research that finds corporal punishment has at best, short term effects, and at worst, severely detrimental long term effects -- in addition, that there are proven methods which are more effective at behavior modification which are being used in urban schools like yours, across the USA?

Bernal: You should be careful in the use of your articles. There is a significant difference between "a" and "the". Obviously you are a smart man and know that there is also a significant body of scientific research which supports the use of corporal punishment. (I've choosen[sic] to read and understand both sides not ignore one because it doesn't support my personal beliefs) I've gone down this road with your colleagues. As I mentioned we use diverse forms of discipline and apply them as neccessary [sic] given the specific circumstances. We will be having a significant media event at which we will discuss in detail our policies and procedures. You will be able to garner additional insight at that point.

DetentionSlip: Perhaps you could cite the 2 or 3 most influential studies you have reviewed which support the use of corporal punishment?

Bernal: No unfortunately I can't cite any studies. Any research that I have done is purely for my own personally knowledge. It is not my position to endorse anyone's work in this area nor to be a subject matter expert. I am sure there are other means by which you can obtain access to the information, individuals and organizations that you are seeking. You seem to be relatively resourceful. I would advise as I do with my children, to seek out the truth for yourself. Conduct your own research, discover credible sources of information, study those sources and draw your own conclusions.

To get involved with ending corporal punishment, visit activist Paula Flowe's site, http://nospank.net/hsh-tn.htm

Ms. Flowe is in Memphis right now working to end this, and DetentionSlip.org provided her with a bullhorn to stir things up.

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