April 30 is Spank Out Day, which you likely know if you read at Snook, Bore Me to Tears, Deanne’s, Doc’s, Daryl’s, COD’s . . .for example, the gentle, devout and seldom-political D wrote a post last year that in our present tortured identity crisis as a nation, breaking our own sternest rules to justify literal torture and then escape ITS prescribed punishment, is ever more ironically true:
I am amazed at how blind people are to the dire ramifications of hitting children. Where is the public outcry for this?! Where are all the support ribbons on the cars? I’m just not seeing it.
What I do see is a more violent, angry world than the one in which I grew up. I see a world where people feel the need to carry concealed weapons to work. I see a world where families are so disconnected that teenagers are sent to boot camps where they are further abused and sometimes killed. Can anyone really deny that we are perpetuating and endorsing the lesson of “might makes right” when we rule over our children using physical punishment?
This also is the time we annually observe the National Day of Reason, which last year was one day after Spank Out Day, May 1, and this year falls on May 7 (it’s always the first Thursday of May.) So come, let us reason together. . .about spanking and abuse, about human belief and behavior and all their truth and consequences, private and public, personal and universal.
Does this mean child beating has become both corporal and capital punishment?
And then there is “school” —
. . .In the old days, they were unregulated, run in many cases as private idiosyncratic fiefs. Punishments were meted out for the slimmest of reasons, often at the whim of sadistic teachers; and, according to former students and teachers, many schools were suffused by an undercurrent of sexuality.
. . .A former student at a school that is now defunct described rules and behavior that seem bizarre, even Dickensian. Among other things, he said, the headmaster used a billiard cue to beat students, then required them to shake his hand and thank him.
People his age generally do not want to discuss what happened, or deflect their discomfort with bluster and black humor, said the former student, now a 47-year-old businessman, who spoke on condition that he not be identified.
“The feeling is, `Well, we’re not nutty as a fruitcake, so it couldn’t have done us much harm,'” he said. “But a lot of people of my generation are quite complicated sexually, and I think it comes from their experience at prep school.”
Much of the worst excess of the past has been swept away by new regulations, starting with the 1989 Children Act, which laid out the state’s responsibility to young people. Corporal punishment in private schools was outlawed in 1999. Schools now conduct mandatory background checks on staff members. The number of Childline, a crisis hotline, is posted in school hallways.
“The whole punishment system has changed beyond recognition,” said Adrian Underwood, director of the Boarding Schools Association in Britain. . .
Oh, that’s just the English? Not. My own American South remains deeply disturbed when it comes to “disciplining” kids.
“I’ve always hated that “be the firm parent and demand obedience” stuff. . . if you aren’t spanking, you aren’t a good Christian parent. Which makes perfect sense if you are trying to indoctrinate your child into something as illogical as literal Bible-interpreting Christianity.”