Parents React to Anderson Taekwondo Corporal Punishment Allegations

Richard Anderson, chief master of Anderson Taekwondo Center, is suspended indefinitely after corporal punishment allegations in _-1771885545509794487
LITTLE ROCK, AR — The instructor at Anderson Taekwondo Center is out of the job indefinitely after a lawsuit filed by a mother complaining her child was hurt from a form of punishment.

Parents apart of the center said Chief Master Richard Anderson had been making a positive impact on children at the center for almost 20 years. They said if it wasn’t for him and the former volunteer accused of paddling a child, their kids wouldn’t know respect and deference.

Defense and respect were two attributes parents who watched their kids compete on Saturday at the American Taekwondo Association tournament said the sport held high.

Especially the Anderson Taekwondo Center in Little Rock, which was well-known for enforcing corporal punishment as a way to teach students respect.

“You have to be tough with boys. I, myself have a son. You have to be tough,” said Shann Drail.

Drail said her 5-year-old son, Lawrence, would grow up to be a good man due in some part to Master Anderson.

“What he’s doing, you have to love children,” she said. “He’s not making any money.”

Amid a lawsuit alleging child abuse at the center, the ATA suspended Anderson’s license Friday evening. According to the suit filed by Cook Law Firm, the mother of a 4-year-old boy was giving her son a bath when she noticed black, blue, purple and red bruises on his read end. The complaint states the boy told her he was taken to the “punishment room” for “ice cream and cake”, a term generally known at the center as a paddle spanking.

The boy told his mother, former volunteer, Bobby Sykes Jr., paddled him for getting a “sad face” on his pre-k daily card.

Attorney Hal Cook said the mother never gave permission for her son to be spanked, nor was she aware the center performed corporal punishment.

“I don’t think there was anybody in Anderson Taekwondo that did not know what the system was,” said a parent who wanted to be identified as Mr. Walker.

According to the center’s lawyer, Jason Stuart, the woman signed a waiver giving permission for Master Anderson to spank her child, but no one else. But because the center is a Department of Human Services facility, state laws does not allow any form of corporal punishment.

Sykes was charged with felony assault and abuse of a child. He posted bond and is due in court some time in August.

Though many parents with the center supported Sykes, Anderson and corporal punishment, other parents at the tournament on Saturday, including Joe Tanaguin who was traveling from Las Vegas with his daughter, said the form of punishment gave children the wrong impression.

“They think that hitting somebody or verbally abusing them is the right way,” he continued. “Using your voice to discipline is a tool.”

The allegations could cause Anderson Taekwondo to close, which was an outcome Drail did not want, but was prepared for.

“Wherever Chief goes, I will go.”

Leah Uko contributed to this report. To follow story coverage with Leah Uko on Facebook click here. To follow story updates with Leah Uko on Twitter click here.

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