Irwin A. Hyman, outspoken children’s rights advocate
College of Education professor Irwin A. Hyman, a nationally known school psychologist and an outspoken advocate for the rights of children, died Feb. 7. He was 69.
A professor since 1968, Hyman directed the National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment and Alternatives, which he founded in 1977 in the College of Education.
In a career lasting more than 35 years at Temple, Hyman built a national reputation for his research on corporal punishment and discipline in schools. He authored numerous books, including Dangerous Schools: What We Can Do About the Physical and Emotional Abuse of Our Children; The Case Against Spanking: How to Discipline Your Child Without Hitting; Reading, Writing and the Hickory Stick: The Appalling Story of Physical and Psychological Abuse in American Schools; and Corporal Punishment in American Education. Hyman worked tirelessly to ban corporal punishment and physical and emotional maltreatment of children in schools — and at home.
“Violence comes from violence,” maintained Hyman, who advocated a federal law outlawing spanking and testified before Congress and state legislatures, calling for an end to corporal punishment in schools. “When people are given the power to inflict pain on others, that power will inevitably be abused. Spanking is unnecessary. It doesn’t work. And it contributes to the violence in the lives of our children.”
He dedicated The Case Against Spanking, his 1997 book, to his granddaughter with the inscription: “To Julia. I give you a mother who will never hit you.”
From Tennessee and Wyoming to Montana, Alaska and Hawaii, Hyman was often called upon to provide expert testimony in court cases of school-related psychological and physical abuse toward students. He was frequently quoted in the national press, including The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The New York Times, on issues related to corporal punishment and discipline. Additionally, he was a sought-after television guest, appearing on “Oprah,” “Donahue,” NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “World News Tonight,” to debate — sometimes hotly — proponents of corporal punishment.
Hyman, who maintained a private practice in Bucks County, was past president of the American Academy of School Psychology. In 2002, he received the prestigious Legends in School Psychology Award from the National Association of School Psychologists. A fellow of five different divisions of the American Psychological Association, he received the Award for Distinguished Service to School Psychology from the APA in 1988. A fellow of the International Society for Research on Aggression, Hyman received the Pennsylvania Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Science and Profession of Psychology in 1999.
At the time of his death, Hyman was heading up an international research project on bullying and was chairing seven different doctoral dissertation committees, according to Joseph Rosenfeld, chairman of the department of psychological studies in education.
Contributions in his memory can be made to Irwin Hyman Student Travel Fund, c/o Temple University School Psychology Program, Philadelphia, PA 19122.
- Barbara Baals