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November 16, 2014

Comments

For your last question, here's an uneducated stab at it — one could argue that it was the Youth Culture of the 1960s which did it. My own father, a child of the 30s, grew up in the old culture where children were beaten if they didn't show respect. His own children's resistance to that completely flummoxed him. The Baby Boom generation gave us a large mass of young people who suddenly had a voice, whether it was on American Bandstand or Kent State — things like that simply hadn't happened before, one got through ones youth and became an adult as quickly as possible. After the 60s, youth gained more power than they'd ever had before.

To wander a bit from the question. We once had a culture which took "spare the rod and spoil the child" literally. Somewhere around the 1960s we flipped (gradually! and mostly only in some parts of the culture) towards a belief that the only appropriate discipline was to "talk to the child." Neither works very well with any consistency.

First off, one of the characteristics of children is that they initially lack the capacity to make reasoned judgements. That is part of what maturing consists of: learning to do that. So initially, you need something more than a reasoned discussion to get across the point that something ought to be, or not to be, done. It doesn't take a beating. It frequently does take punctuation -- i.e. something along the lines of an openhanded smack on the backside or two -- to get the point across.

Second, children are different, and they come with personalities already in place. (You can mold them to some degree, but only to some.) Which means that the approach which works well with one may not work at all with another. Even at the same age in the same family.

I expect that, eventually, we will once again achieve a social concensus about how to discipline children appropriately. But we definitely are not there now.

Oh, we have and expert/elite opinion on the subject. But we are a very long ways from having one which is accepted across the culture. At the moment, it is just one more subject that animates our political/cultural/social divide. And discussions of it tend to get caught up in that framework, which makes discussing them dispassionately rather difficult in a lot of cases.

BTW, the Bible is chock full of verses condemning injustice and abuse of the poor and weak.

They coexist right next to the 'be married to your rapist 'verses', which is why I find 'the Bible says so' to not be a conclusion.

It frequently does take punctuation -- i.e. something along the lines of an openhanded smack on the backside or two -- to get the point across.

No it doesn't - unless the point you're trying to get across is that physical force is an acceptable way to get what you want.

These are interesting questions. I wonder how they interact with the long term reduction in violence in general: did one cause the other or is something else driving both? One can easily imagine that people who have been less abused as children will be less likely to deploy violence against other adults when they grow up and people who have experienced less random adult-on-adult violence will be less willing to beat their kids....

it's hard to find a specific event. looking at this timeline, it's clear that there was a gradual shift in the mid 20th C around how children in the US should be treated.

1944 stands out:

Prince v. Massachusetts
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the government has broad authority to regulate the actions and treatment of children. Parental authority is not absolute and can be permissibly restricted if doing so is in the interests of a child's welfare. While children share many of the rights of adults, they face different potential harms from similar activities.

Nigel,
Let me give you an example from my own experience. A 3 year old girl, the daughter of friends, had developed an enthusiasm for kicking people in the shins (e.g. during dinner). They persistently tried talking to her about it, to absolutely no effect -- which will surprise nobody who has dealt with 3 year olds. A couple of quick swats on the backside, combined with "Don't kick people" turned the trick immediately.

The point that kids take from this is not that physical force is an acceptable way to get what you want. Unless, of course, you make that your standard practice in other circumstances. Or if you want to argue that all law reduces to physical force all the time.

The lesson that they take, in my experience, is that actions have consequences. Which, I submit, is one that you want them to take before they are learning it in a police lock-up.

"It frequently does take punctuation -- i.e. something along the lines of an openhanded smack on the backside or two -- to get the point across.

No it doesn't - unless the point you're trying to get across is that physical force is an acceptable way to get what you want."

And there is where, IMO, we are. I phrased it to my daughter on the first occasion of her being faced with a child beyond reason, this way:

Hon, what ever you use, there has to be one punishment reserved for when you believe that not paying attention to you is dangerous to your child. The punishment that they learn to respond to instantly. Used often it is useless, used in anger it is wrong, used in those rare situations where your child is adamantly wrong beyond all reasoning it is how you sculpt the edges of your child's understanding of right and wrong, too dangerous, and outside the realm of acceptability. I cant tell you that it needs to be reasonably mild corporal punishment, never in anger, but it's what I decided was necessary.

I will add that the use of any corporal punishment was so rare in my house that my kids don't remember being spanked. They do remember the one time as teens that they got the smack on the head, the one time I smote them in anger. Mouthy they get.

Nicely put, Marty.

A couple of quick swats on the backside, combined with "Don't kick people" turned the trick immediately.

Or the parents could just, I don't know, pick up the kid, hold them upside down for a bit and tell them "don't kick people". Seems pretty effective in my experience.

I'm glad you found this one anecdote where using violence against children worked out so well. But in general, we probably want to consider all the cases, not just the good ones, when evaluating something.

wj presents a false dichotomy. The choices for disciplining the very young are not just "swatting" or "talking". We found (sample size=2) that "time-out" was extremely effective -- and that's certainly what I would have done with the 3-y.o. wj is talking about.

The stellar advantage of time-out is that it teaches kids to control their own emotions. Both we and other parents who've used it found that, when they got a little older, our kids sometimes put *themselves* in time out. They had learned time-out not as a punishment or deterrent, but as a tool for self-control -- and it's hard to think of anything more valuable.

Having grown up on "time out" (albeit under a different name, back in the 1950s), I appreciate its merits. But I would say that a handful of swats over the course of an entire childhood can be a positive force.

As Marty noted, we aren't talking about serious beatings. Nor in anger. Nor with great frequency. But I think proclaiming that it should never happen is an over-reaction to the undoubted excesses of the past.

I think proclaiming that it should never happen is an over-reaction to the undoubted excesses of the past.

Well, if you're a teacher, or involved in professional child are in the UK, 'never' is the law.
Plenty argued as you do before the law was brought in. No one in my experience argues it should be repealed.

(Care, not are, dammit.)

I'm also curious as to how one might calibrate these beatings across the range of serious to unserious... frequent; infrequent... hotheaded; cold hearted etc ?

I have found, sample size dozens, that every parent that I know younger than me admits under close discussion that they lie and say they have never used corporal punishment on their children. Because that is defined as "beating" and failure.

My son is 25 now and was the easiest kid to raise, for which I blame my wife, now ex, by which I mean he inherited all of her good traits, like serenity.

I spanked him once. He was still at toddler stage, but had learned to walk and then quickly began to run, whenever it occurred to him.

Our rule was, never step off a curb without holding Mom and Dad's hand, which can be difficult to internalize for a little kid when he or she first feels the power of forward locomotion.

We thought we had it licked, but one day, while leaving the library, he got away from me and by the time I got my wits about me, he was about to run off the curb into the parking area right behind a car slowly backing out driven by an elderly woman, who never would have seem him.

I shouted his name and he stopped on a dime, as we had trained him to do, but when I caught up with him, I gave him an open-handed middling spank on his bottom (I think he was still wearing diapers at that point, but he had some padding on) to emphasize the point.

Then I beat the crap out of the elderly woman. No, no, I didn't! She was oblivious of the whole thing. I kid.

I felt bad about it then, because after all, I was a lot bigger than him. Now I don't regret it in the least.

It was the only time I ever struck him.

After that, since I was a stay-at-home Dad, before he was old enough to go to school, I used to spy on him through the front window, which was partially open so he could hear my voice, when he would play in the front yard.

He would stand right on the edge of the curb and gaze across the tarmac (just another word for freedom) in front of him and then look down at his feet as he contemplated the temptation.

I would say his name loud enough for him to hear a couple of times when one foot stepped into the gutter and he would quickly return both feet to the curb and then look to see where I was, so I would hide so as to appear omniscient and omnipresent.

He would clasp his hands behind his back as he stood there like a child in a story book.

He was so cute that more than once I ran out there and scooped him up and applied raspberries to his neck and told him what a good boy he was for not going in the street.

So years later when he was 8 or whatever we had perfected the method of crossing heavily trafficked streets by him placing his hand in my back pocket so I knew where he was at all times.

Well, I was always careful when he was with me, but on my own I am an incorrigible jaywalker who can cross five lanes of speeding traffic against the light while reading the movie reviews in the New Yorker.

So, after about the time he reached the age of eight, the rolls vis a vis crossing streets became reversed. Instead of the hand in my back pocket being a reassurance to both of us, he would use it to stop ME from crossing at inopportune times and call out DAD!.

And that's how it works to this day. No hand in pocket any longer natch (the kid's getting a doctorate; how would that look?) but he's always warning me not to cross.

Sometimes I get away from him, live through the crossing, only to look back and there he is still on the opposite curb following the rules.

Maybe when I'm a real old codger, he'll catch up and pop me one on the behind.

Because that is defined as "beating" and failure.

How would you define it Marty?

I already defined it above. An appropriate measure, rarely, in the life of a child when you need them to register this is more important than all those thongs I sent you to timeout for. See the stepping off a curb example from the count.

I think on a different thread this weekend I commented about how people redefine the terms to ensure to "define" something as bad. So now any corporal punishment, in this thread, is "beating". I'm pretty sure the few swats from the count don't qualify.

I never beat my child, nor did any of the parents I have talked to about it. When my next door neighbor did, we called the cops.

"roles" not "rolls"

So now any corporal punishment, in this thread, is "beating". I'm pretty sure the few swats from the count don't qualify.

As beatings or corporal punishment?

I would hide so as to appear omniscient and omnipresent.

I don't know about spank vs no-spank, but that right there is a prescription for years of therapy.

:)

Nah, he's an agnostic when it comes to me.

But, that was funny.

"than all those 'thongs' I sent you to timeout for."

I wouldn't have put up with that either.

:) The typing or the "thongs"?

So now any corporal punishment, in this thread, is "beating".

yeah, gotta agree with Marty on this.

if a spanking that's enough to grab a child's attention but not enough to actually hurt is 'beating' then 'beating' as a word has been beaten into oblivion.

but i have no kids, so i'm not qualified to comment further.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child: Any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light.

So according to the UN, if I grab a kid's arm to keep him from running in front of a car, if there is any intention whatsoever to cause a little discomfort, that constitutes "abuse"? I would say that, if you were not gripping hard enough to cause at least a little discomfort, you were risking that child's life. Which seems more abusive to my tiny mind.

And people wonder why the UN's conventions do not always get the respect some would like. A track record for repeated (although by no means consistent) high-minded fuzzy thinking might be one reason. And detracts from the good that the organization does.

Would you say you were punishing the child in that case wj?

I always ask the parents if they have ever picked up their angry, stubborn, etc. child from the floor to "put" them in timeout, or bed, or the car or wherever. That is also a means to use your size and strength to impose your will on them.

The answer is always I have, or, my child never acts/acted up in public.

My choice of a picture, it turns out, was rather distracting from my real point.

What I really want to talk about is when no-doubt-about-it child abuse became a *heinous* crime, not an "unfortunate" crime.

And why it's not in the Big Ten, the way honoring parents is.

It goes on: Most involves hitting (“smacking”, “slapping”, “spanking”) children, with the hand or with an implement - a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. But it can also involve, for example, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion (for example, washing children’s mouths out with soap or forcing them to swallow hot spices).

Doc,

I guess the question is legally or culturally, or maybe even just openly. I know my parents quietly reported abuse, and as an abused child I was protected by my father.

I believe early in my life it falls into the category of a broader set of issues that were considered "family" problems. Domestic abuse, alcoholism(even with no abuse, child abuse, I'm pressed for time here but the difference is when did it become ok for others to intervene?

And thus: The Committee recognizes that parenting and caring for children, especially babies and young children, demand frequent physical actions and interventions to protect them. This is quite distinct from the deliberate and punitive use of force to cause some degree of pain, discomfort or humiliation. As adults, we know for ourselves the difference between a protective physical action and a punitive assault; it is no more difficult to make a distinction in relation to actions involving children. The law in all States, explicitly or implicitly, allows for the use of non-punitive and necessary force to protect people.

I'll also say that the picture doesn't show the kind of spanking you-all are discussing, but specifically the traditional practice of hitting children for academic failure. A methodology which I think we all agree is both abusive and counterproductive -- though it's a good way to ensure that only a minority of children ever develop an interest in book-learning. Thins the herd.

for example, washing children’s mouths out with soap

sorry, UN, i refuse to look at A Christmas Story and think "ABUSE"!

It's not the Convention, but a comment by the UNCRC.

Parents are generally in positions of power over their children in a number of ways, not just by being bigger and stronger. So is any punishment whatsoever abuse? Why should it be limited to corporal punishment?

"What I really want to talk about is when no-doubt-about-it child abuse became a *heinous* crime, not an "unfortunate" crime."

I read that New Yorker article last week and was appalled at the shallow, cowardly, and tortured thinking, excuse-making more like, of nearly everyone who blocked the carrying out of justice.

Off the top of my head, it seems to me that no-doubt-about-it child abuse became a heinous crime, not merely an unfortunate crime, when the ageless, unwritten rules governing the strictly inside private business of closed groups, like the Hasidim, the Catholic Church, many British educational institutions come to mind, began to be questioned and broken down by society, civil government, and good journalism.

Of course, as Marty pointed out, the Family and its hierarchical structure, mostly patriarchal in our culture, was considered the most closed and inviolate institution to outside influences, strictures, and sanctions.

And naturally, heinous abuse was allowed to flourish in the darkness and questioning it, though done, was in hushed tones with little interference following up.

It's no coincidence that a certain type of conservative in our culture has waged a war against government, journalism, and society for their interference in the family institution.

There's a reason Charlie Manson called his victims of abuse The Family.

Stay out.

Same with the Mafia. Conservative to the core.

Stay out. We'll take care a dese here tings.

Ugh, I would say grabbing a child that way would not necessarily be punishment. But the convention, as quoted, does not resrict itself to punishment. Anything which is intended to cause even the slightest discomfort seems to fit their definition. Even if, as suggested, the intention was to cause discomfort in aid of making the grip solid.

Just for the record, here's my personal distinction between acceptable discipline and abuse.

1) if you used anything other than an open hand, and especially if you used an object, it's abuse. No discussion. No appeal.
2) if you struck anywhere but the butt, you better have an exceptionally good reason why. (Not saying it is impossible to come up with one. But I'd have to be convinced.)
3) if you left marks (cuts, welts, etc.) that were visible an hour later, you were also over the line.
4) if you were motivated by anything other than the welfare of the child (anger, panic, frustration, etc.), you are also out of line. If you can't be calm about it, at minimum wait until you can.

5) if you care more about what your friends/neighbors will thank than about the long-term good of the child, what are you doing being a parent in the first place?

I could probably come up with a couple more. But those are, to me, the obvious ones.

But the convention, as quoted, does not resrict itself to punishment.

The part I quoted begins "Any punishment"

Included in the quote, no less.

The part I quoted begins "Any punishment"

But why only involving physical force?

Apologies, ugh. I will try to read more carefully.

But why only involving physical force?

The comment begins: Following its two days of general discussion on violence against children, held in 2000 and 2001, the Committee on the Rights of the Child resolved to issue a series of general comments concerning eliminating violence against children, of which this is the first. The Committee aims to guide States parties in understanding the provisions of the Convention concerning the protection of children against all forms of violence. This general comment focuses on corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment, which are currently very widely accepted and practised forms of violence against children.

I apologize for the length, but here is advice on Texas law from the Attorney Generals office, I found the detail interesting:

Texas law allows the use of force, but not deadly force, against a child by the child's parent, guardian, or other person who is acting in loco parentis. Most parents do, in fact, use corporal punishment (in the form of spanking) at least occasionally, and most do not, in fact, consider it abusive. Experts disagree about the advisability of ever spanking a child. Some say that, combined with other methods of discipline, mild spanking of a small child is harmless and effective. Others claim that other methods of discipline work as well as spanking or better, and that spanking is not necessary. Many child advocates and experts in child development contend that all forms of corporal punishment, including spanking, are harmful. Most believe that spanking an infant is always inappropriate. The law does not attempt to arbitrate between the different views on the best method of disciplining a child. What we do know is that severe corporal punishment can be extremely damaging and dangerous, and this is what the law prohibits as abuse.

When is discipline abusive?

Some parents who become abusive believe that what they are doing is in the best interest of the child and are confused about when an attempt at discipline crosses the line and becomes abuse. Whether an action is abusive really depends on the circumstances of the individual case. However, the following guidelines may help:

* Striking a child above the waist is more likely to be considered abusive; disciplinary spanking is usually confined to the buttocks.

* Spanking with the bare, open hand is least likely to be abusive; the use of an instrument is cause for concern. Belts and hair brushes are accepted by many as legitimate disciplinary "tools," and their use is not likely to be considered abusive, as long as injury does not occur. Electrical or phone cords, boards, yardsticks, ropes, shoes, and wires are likely to be considered instruments of abuse.

* It is best not to hit a child in anger. Abusive punishment is most likely to occur when the parent is out of control.

* Finally, and most important, punishment is abusive if it causes injury. A blow that causes a red mark that fades in an hour is not likely to be judged abusive. On the other hand, a blow that leaves a bruise, welt, or swelling, or requires medical attention, probably would be judged abusive.

Another abusive form of discipline that does not involve hitting is severe isolation or confinement of a child. Many parents use "time out," loss of privilege, or confinement to a special area as a punishment or as a time for the child to reconsider his or her choices. But when the child is tied up, gagged, locked in a closet, shut out, starved, or otherwise seriously deprived, the punishment is excessive and may constitute abuse.

for example, washing children’s mouths out with soap

My Mom tried that on me once, but I liked the soap.

To Doc Science's OP, it is really curious that abuse of children (of any and all kinds, including the sexual abuse that is the topic of the New Yorker piece) doesn't get much if any mention in the OT.

A lot of moral issues are addressed in the OT, it is kind of a striking omission.

First of all, Kellner did not reveal that people were spanking kids, he revealed that they were molesting them, which is quite a different thing.

Second, I have to question the premise here. Yes, many men beat their wives, and society did too little about it, but the notion that molesting children and beating wives was viewed as a property crime may apply to some communities, certainly not to all. I am quite certain my grandfathers never beat their wives. They were taught that it was dishonorable to hit a woman, and in any case, they loved their wives and certainly did not see them as property. In my great grandparent's generation the only one I knew was my Scotch great grandmother, and I can assure you, no one would dare treat her as property.

As to the legal status of child molesters, they seem to have been prosecuted under rape laws just as they would have been if they'd raped an adult, except that they were more likely to be prosecuted.

And short of prosecution, children could be taken from parents who the community thought were abusing or neglecting them. As early as 1642, Massachusetts had a law for removing a child from a home.

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/insights_law_society/ChildProtectionHistory.authcheckdam.pdf

I always ask the parents if they have ever picked up their angry, stubborn, etc. child from the floor to "put" them in timeout, or bed, or the car or wherever. That is also a means to use your size and strength to impose your will on them.

The answer is always I have, or, my child never acts/acted up in public.

Wait, is that what you meant when you said everyone really uses "corporal punishment" but lies about it? I thought we were talking about the need to hit children, which is what "corporal punishment" in this context usually means.

To my mind, forcibly putting a kid in the timeout place is not the same thing as hitting a child. You are, indeed, using size and strength to impose your will on the kid (and for stubborn small children, it's sometimes necessary). You're not deliberately inflicting pain.

The how to guide from the Texas AG seems kind of complicated. The UK rule - which is apparently just "don't hit children" - seems clearer and less subject to abuse. Some of that delicate Texas nuance, I guess.

Plus the UK approach has the whole "not hitting children" part to recommend it, and thus no need to discuss the relative merits of various implements.

No hitting children is the best policy, IMO.

However, sticking to that policy can be very challenging, especially for people who were raised with light corporal punishment. Therefore, I don't judge harshly people who sometimes, rarely, swat their small child's behind with an open hand.

At a certain point, though, it's not horrible for kids to realize that they have an effect on other people, and that effect can be problematic. I would be reluctant to justify a parent's "losing it" since that could mean serious trouble, such as abuse. However, "losing it" to a very small extent (like spanking with an open hand on the buttocks) shows a child that parents 1) aren't perfect, and 2) don't have unlimited patience. Not sure that it's the world's worst thing for kids to find out that they can make people steaming mad.

As early as 1642, Massachusetts had a law for removing a child from a home.

Against this one needs to set the Puritan belief in the natural depravity of infants, the necessity of what they called "breaking of the will" ( "first and most urgent purpose of child rearing" according to David Hacket Fisher's excellent Albion's Seed), and the legality of a variety of corporal punishments, ranging from whipping to tapping small infants on the head with a ceramic thimble...

My thoughts are well stated in sapient's 11:21 PM comment - just for the record.

However, sticking to that policy can be very challenging, especially for people who were raised with light corporal punishment. Therefore, I don't judge harshly people who sometimes, rarely, swat their small child's behind with an open hand.

That's about where I come out.

This though:

However, "losing it" to a very small extent (like spanking with an open hand on the buttocks) shows a child that parents 1) aren't perfect, and 2) don't have unlimited patience. Not sure that it's the world's worst thing for kids to find out that they can make people steaming mad.

seems problematic. How is it that demonstrating these things requires violence rather than some other method of discipline? Isn't a possible "lesson learned" that "when people get steaming mad they hit other people, including children"?

This goes to my broader issue with this kind of thing; to take wj's shin kicking example, is the lesson learned really "don't kick people in the shins because that hurts them and is bad" or "don't kick people in the shins because daddy/mommy will hit me"?

Separately, what if the child doesn't learn anything? The parent has then hit the child for nothing, no?

the UK approach has the whole "not hitting children" part to recommend it

To be fair, the UK is a little backward in this, prohibiting corporal punishment in schools, but not the home:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal_punishment
- and having the slightly unrealistic rule that you may hit your child, so long as you don't leave a visible mark...

And I ought also to point out that I am, not for the first time, in the minority:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporal_punishment_in_the_home#United_Kingdom
In a 2006 survey, 80% of the population said they believed in smacking, and 73% said that they believed that any ban would cause a sharp deterioration in children's behaviour. Seven out of ten parents said they themselves use corporal punishment.[34] In a 2012 poll conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion, 63 per cent of Britons voiced opposition to banning parents in the UK from smacking their children...

Separately, what if the child doesn't learn anything? The parent has then hit the child for nothing, no?

I basically agree with this. My point was more that real life includes flawed people. If a parent's flaw is that s/he loses control with a defiant child to the point of swatting a child's butt on a rare basis, that's within "acceptably flawed" - something we learn about each other in the course of life. When a kid is physically and/or emotionally assaulted on a more serious or regular basis, that's a problem that requires intervention.

Ugh, I thouht the actual lesson was "actions have consequences."

The embarrassment of getting turned over my knee far exceeded any minimal actual pain involved in getting spanked. But then, my intent wasn't to inflict pain, or even punishment. It was to get her attention, so when at the end I said "Don't kick people" it stuck. Which it did.

Isn't a possible "lesson learned" that "when people get steaming mad they hit other people, including children"?

I think that's sort of the point, people being what they are (reptilian OS with a bunch of add-ons, or something to that effect).

And I ought also to point out that I am, not for the first time, in the minority:

Given the number of fb posts about the good ol' days, when kids were hit a lot more often and were supposedly so much better behaved than kids today, that doesn't surprise me. They're of the same flavor as "Did you ride a bike without a helmet and catch frogs all day without a cell phone? You must have grown up in the [insert decade]!"

"But then, my intent wasn't to inflict pain, or even punishment. It was to get her attention,"

As I said earlier, this is the point. If the point is to create pain then its probably not going to be effective anyway. If the point is to say "you need to pay very close attention to this right now" it can be. Then, sometimes its not.

My particular objection is to continue to spank a child when it is clearly no longer a meaningful communication method. Once used often enough it loses the surprise and embarrassment and trepidation factor. Then its just punishment, and, short of abuse, one kids shake off easily once they know its a very short term punishment.

It was to get her attention, so when at the end I said "Don't kick people" it stuck. Which it did.

And if it hadn't stuck?

And if it hadn't stuck?

wj's daughter would be holed up in a clock tower with a bolt-action rifle, natch. (I kid! I kid!)

My personal policy in this matter is that corporal punishment must be rare to be effective.

I think there have been possibly two occasions where I have spanked each of my kids.

I am utterly lacking in interest in what people who are not responsible for the upbringing of my kids have to say about that. I just don't care whether anyone disapproves.

Ugh,
And if you try your approach(s) and it doesn't work?

I doubt that anyone has come up with the one perfect approach which will always work for every kid. If so, they have not shared. So all any of us can do is start with what experience teaches us is, for us, the most beneficial and least harmful approach. And if that doesn't work, try something else.

HSH,
If my daughter were holed up in a tower, it would be with a steel broadsword. None of this new-fangled gunpowder for this family!

Real conservatives haven't modernized to guns -- even bolt-action (or muzzleloading) ones. ;-)

On one hand, I am deeply skeptical of parents who spank their children. They talk a good talk about limiting it, not doing it in anger, etc, but I'm not an idiot and know darn well that they hit their kids in anger all the time. Next time you see someone administering a spanking, just look at their eyes. Maybe they don't hit their kids SOLELY in anger, but that's not the same thing, and having been there I can state that their kids aren't fooled. Even downright abusive people can usually claim that they don't hit their kids SOLELY in anger. Casus belli's abound.

On the other hand, kids aren't rational creatures. Not all the time, certainly. Easy example- I know plenty of guys who were absolute lunatics as teenagers- going from placid to wild eyed, hyperventilating, violent jackasses at the drop of a hat. The army fixed them up right quick. What's that? The army doesn't hit you? Yeah, its just super-good at making you hit yourself, over and over, for months. Same principle.

So I don't know how to balance the fact that I think that even good parents aren't trustworthy enough to use corporal punishment in a consistent and positive way, and the fact that I think some kids sometimes need immediate, harsh, negative consequences.

wj, "steel broadsword"? Clearly, you're not a *true* conservative if that's your newfangled preference.

Go old school: hand ax.

On the contrary. Those who use hand axes are not true conservatives. They are reactionaries, who are trying to coopt the label of "conservative" to hide their true nature.

Go old school: hand ax.

i'd go with and adz and a zax, just to maximize my potential Scrabble score.

Pol Pot had a way with kids.

And if you try your approach(s) and it doesn't work?

I don't know, never been there. It seems to me that there are enough variations on the non-hitting side that if we've truly tried everything, it's probably not something hitting is going to help.

I don't know, never been there.

Does this mean you don't have kids, or that you haven't run out of other approaches?

Haven't run out yet. They are 3 and 5 1/2 so there is still time.

What I find interesting about this whole corporal punishment business is the casual acceptance - sort of similar to what Doc Sci notes in the original post. Indeed, the Texas AG has put out a whole guide about what is and is not an acceptable level of physical punishment for/violence against ... children!

It's like "oh yeah, opinions differ on that, don't go too far though, and we won't come right out and say that starvation, gagging, use of electrical cords, and blows that require medical attention are straight up illegal, just that they 'probably' are or 'may be' or 'likely' will."

From which I take there are some circumstances where it's just fine (or, more charitably, not illegal abuse) in the eyes of the authorities in Texas to, e.g., hit your child with an electric cord.

Lawyers are downright allergic to saying that something is definitely illegal.

There's a reason for that- you learn pretty fast that no matter how ridiculous something is, sooner or later someone will do it. And the profession punishes you for committing to a position and then retreating from it. So its best not to make categorical statements that you might have to walk back.

Rick Perry is on film aiming a high-powered, helicopter-mounted machine gun at children.

Here are Perry and Hannity waggling their tiny dicks at children crossing the Mexican border. Isn't that sort of threatening, exhibitionist behavior against the law down there?

http://thedailybanter.com/2014/07/real-enemies-arent-undocumented-immigrants-rick-perry-sean-hannity/border.

It's obvious the two of them were either violently/psycho-sexually abused by their parents or not disciplined enough in the proper ways, because someone forgot to slap the smug looks off of their pig faces before it was too late for the rest of us.

With plenty of exceptions among the finer people in that state, I'm sure, the sociopathic murderers and sadistic pig-filth populating and running that nether region of confederate secessionists shouldn't be held up as a standard to which the rest of us are held.

They leave roughly 27% of their population uninsured (how many children is that?), the highest in the Nation by recent counts.

They are adults, we're told. Bullwhips, the butts of pistols, and if needed, bullets, are just the beginning of the childhood discipline those filth were spared.


I know plenty of guys who were absolute lunatics as teenagers- going from placid to wild eyed, hyperventilating, violent jackasses at the drop of a hat. The army fixed them up right quick. What's that? The army doesn't hit you? Yeah, its just super-good at making you hit yourself, over and over, for months. Same principle.

Interesting point to raise. The Army not hitting you is a relatively new thing (although it ceasing to be officially sanctioned is rather older), to the point where there's still a more than a few sergeants who'll openly lament its passing. The "making you hit yourself" thing is getting phased out, though, and the number of NCOs who publicly (and in some cases, nigh-incessantly) wail, moan, and yearn for the halcyon days when every last private was well-ordered, disciplined, and deferential is immense. The Army did studies on "smoking" (i.e., physical exertion as punishment) and surprise, surprise, they found it to be counterproductive in terms of morale, and not exactly the gizmo-cure-all its proponents tout it to be in terms of discipline. That does not, of course, stop its proponents from wanting to go back to where it was the go-to method. I'll note from my personal experiences that the NCOs who wanted to resort to it (or who did resort to it) rarely had all that many other tools in their leadership toolkit besides intimidation, and were generally markedly polarizing (and frankly inferior) leaders compared to the ones who used other means of maintaining discipline.

It's also worth noting that military corrections phased out the Army hitting you much, much later than the rest of the Army - last decade, in fact (it was before my time in, and I never asked about it, but I strongly suspect I know the timeline on that, and I'm pretty sure y'all can guess it too). Corrections also entirely rejected the legitimacy of smoking. Good order and discipline did not suddenly vanish from military correctional facilities in any way, shape, or form. This did not prevent correctional NCOs from being among the aforementioned ones lamenting that the only way the Army could hope to stay the Army was bringing back physical abuse (self-inflicted and/or otherwise) as "corrective training".

One thing should not be forgotten: Laments that 'kids today have no discipline' have been put to writing since there was writing around and the sentiment is probably older than that. In other words, if we followed that, it has been going downhill for several thousand years with each generation less disciplined and moral than the previous. It seems a miracle that there is any civilisation still around. OK, the same people claim that there isn't, also since several thousand years.

wj,if your intent in gripping hard is to make the kid feel pain, that meets the definition in the UN thing. If your intent is to solidify your grip, even if you know it is likely to cause pain, then it doesn't.

I don't think a quick swat on the butt once or twice in a kid's life to get his attention is that big a deal but it always makes me laugh to read stories that imply it always works miracles. If swatting is the ultimate in your arsenal of discipline you'd better pray you never have a kid like my brother. No amount of physical punishment would deter him when he was a kid.

@Hartmut-
There's a fine little rant by Socrates on that very subject: the bad manners and generally degenerate state of Youth Today. A reasonably modern list, if lacking in cell phones.

Oh BTW, it's fake. (And NB he really did say that stuff, if piecemeal -- or so 'tis said and seemingly uncontradicted.) I have lost the citation, of course, but it was written around 1910 as a summary of what Socrates said in various places, and was clearly identified as that. Naturally, it did not take many years for the piece to become a standard quotation of what Socrates said all those years ago.

@ Off-my-lawn in general:
It's odd, when you come to think of it: A whole century ago, people reproduced stuff and lied about the sources to make it more amusing, and it was accepted uncritically. Really dishonest behavior in spite of all the beatings they had received from conscientious parents and teachers!

A note on the OP, if I may--

Years ago, when I first sat down and read Genesis attentively, largely to see what that Abraham-Isaac thing was really about, I was struck by one feature of that story. Surely some others must have noticed it over the centuries, especially the past one, but they seem to have been pretty quiet. To wit, the Lord is requiring Abraham to prove his loyalty by destroying his *most precious possession*. Look it up. Isaac as a human being with his own rights? Hah! You might well say that one owes a particular duty of care to the people one has brought into the world.

To me, that beloved story, if it does have a moral (probably so) is as hopelessly ill told as Job. Fine, apparently, for the ancients, or certain ancients, but if you want eternal wisdom from stories, you need to find a different bunch of stories.

Kids these days! Strutting around on their hind legs and acting like they're something. Why, half of them can barely climb trees.

Porlock Junior, some theologians think that Abraham actually failed the test by not even trying to protest against the obviously unreasonable order. They argue (among other things) that after this event there is no one-on-one conversation between Abaraham and G#d anymore while before they had regular chit-chats. Trying to talk G#d out of destroying Sodom and Gomorrhah on the other ahnd had no ill effects on their relationship.
So, the interpretation is all about the metatext.

At least the Lord stage coughed "lamb shiskabob" at the last moment, to clue in Abraham before he could set Isaac alight.

Issac's stunt double, the ram in the thicket, probably wished he hadn't loitered about watching the goings-ons, but could find solace in the fact that, well, if is wasn't this Tribe, the Achaeans far to the north would have caught up with him as a snack between bouts of hacking their own little lambs to pieces for something even more worthless, the flirt Helen.

Abraham was your typical thick and ordinary literalist, taking all covenants, constitutions, texts, and signs as an unswerving suicide pact.

Reminds me of the killers now plaguing so many parts of the world, including right here and now as we speak. Some of them sit on Courts.

Course, the Lord returned to the sacrificial picnic basket later with his own progeny, which is why we serve mutton on Easter, slathering on mint sauce to hide the aftertaste of symbolic cannibalism.

Or maybe someone just made up the stories as they went along, to prove a point and keep everyone in line.

doretta, as I think I noted way up thread, kids arrive with personalities. And there is no one approach that will work with all of them. (Tough on parents, but them's the breaks.)

Still, a swat on the backside is a generally (albeit certainly not universally) useful means to get a kid's attention. Not, at least in my mind, an effective method of discipline/punishment. But applied on rare occasions, it does seem to concentrate the mind.

"...slathering on mint sauce to hide the aftertaste of symbolic cannibalism."

Yes, because actual cannibalism is reported to be quite tasty, similar to pork.

Everyone secretly wonders what people taste like, except for the very few who admit to it - and me. I've never given it a thought, not like all of you sick emeffers.

hsh, we do know what people taste like. There is a reason, after all, that it is referred to as "long pig." And it isn't how messy their housekeeping frequently is.

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