Can You Go All Day Without Hitting a Child?

30 04 2009

Stop Every Kid Hitter You Can — Teach ‘Em a Lesson!

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?

On Christianity, Fundamentalism, Spanking and what
constitutes Child Abuse

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.

Control: Being Beaten By This Large Man at School

Thinking About Hitting and Children

Spanked, Not-Spanked, Learn Different Power of Story

Spanking as Child Abuse

Is Your Love for Your Kids Controlling?

Parenting Beyond the Stinking Red Herring of Relativism:

“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.”

California Child Abuse is Not Home Education

What John McCain Could Save His Soul By Learning



31 responses

30 04 2009

“Children do not need to be made to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how. If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than anyone else could make for them.”

–John Holt in How Children Fail

30 04 2009

You’re so on top of these things. I didn’t think I’d have time for a post, then I came across this video and realized it fit right in.

1 05 2009
Mrs. C

I guess my biggest problem with this “spank out” idea is that there are very few places parents can go for genuine help in learning to discipline their children. Well, places that don’t stigmatize the help-seeker or result in that person’s name being filed away for future reference if you know what I mean.

As a child of parents who used… “traditional disciplining methods,” I think I would like parents to hear “ideas you can use” way more than moralizing about how bad these parents are. You know? People are more likely to really open up about what’s truly going on at home if they feel they are NOT being judged AND if they feel like the other person/group is trying to help without stigmatizing the person seeking it.

I just wanted to add for the sake of discussion that when I see ideas like “spank outs” that it stigmatizes the spank-er from getting ideas and having an open mind. I think that a lot of these spanking parents are good people doing the best they can… and that people are not teachable if they feel they’re being judged.

PS. Though I don’t really practice what I preach. I think the people who hurt my Elf in school should be FIRED. I never said I wasn’t a hypocrite.

1 05 2009

Mrs C, I don’t disagree — stigmatizing is NOT helpful. Reaching parents with resources they can trust, absoultely, public writing by fundamentalists say, who refute the lie that the bible commands them to beat the hell out of their children, for their own good.

That’s why I included this link above. It’s an evangelical theologian who wants to save parents from wrong religious ideas and save their kids from being abused in schools and day cares run by people under those wrong ideas.

I would really like to know what you think of it after you’ve read it. Do you think it would help anyone, maybe open their minds and hearts to a different way just a crack, give them courage and some faith-sustaining hope that it doesn’t have to be this way?

1 05 2009

I hadn’t thought about it, but now that Mrs C mentions it — I personally worked through a couple of “Great American Smoke-Outs” back in the 80s. No stigma, very supportive and positive, all sorts of ideas and resources to encourage people to build better, healthier behaviors. I see the Spank-Out the same way.

I never was interested in the TV Turn Off Day because I love tv and don’t think it’s unhealthy, not looking for help! — but that “day” seems to work under the same general approach, of not moralizing or stigmatizing, and offering alternate behaviors that each individual participating can enjoy instead of feeling deprived. It’s a positive event like giving away tasty samples in the deli, to attract interest, give people at that teachable moment a sense of new possibilities along with the feel of a peer group in it with them, and hopefully then focus their efforts for the long haul?

Getting into shape (diet and exercise) works or fails the same way, right? No stigma, just “Yes We Can!” 🙂

1 05 2009

Still thinking — parents shouldn’t be stigmatized but in the end, my main concern is that kids shouldn’t be hit. Period! Whatever helps make that happen, let a thousand strategies bloom.

1 05 2009

there are very few places parents can go for genuine help in learning to discipline their children

I could be wrong, but I’m inclined to disagree with this. In my area, I see free, widely-advertised parenting classes and workshops offered by schools, hospitals, community education programs all the time. Popular parenting magazines and tv talk shows also stress non-violent parenting advice. I don’t watch the daytime tv talk shows but aren’t hosts like Dr. Phil and Oprah on board here, too? Sympathetic characters in tv programs are usually modeling positive parenting practices. Books, books, books. And then… there’s always the most instructive of all influences: the conscience 🙂

1 05 2009

ooops. what did I do? the first part is a quote from Mrs. C – and my part begins with I could be wrong :S

[ed. note: you left off the closing backslash in your blockquote command, so it made an extra indent; fixed with one keystroke!]

1 05 2009
Mrs. C

Back from browsing link… JJ, this is a lot to think about. And boremetotears, I hear what you’re saying but … I feel that a lot of these workshops and parenting classes “talk down” to the attendees. I DID attend some voluntarily before my children were born and… well, now that I’ve been a parent for some time, I can tell you that all the notes I took didn’t really help me in my actual parenting journey so much. They were great ideas for these hypothetical children I never had.

It *sounds* so easy to say well, we should never spank no matter what. But it isn’t the reality I see when I look at most families. I guess I see spanking as you-all probably (correct if wrong!) see abortion… that it should be safe, legal, and RARE.

I would be loathe to categorize the mom who gives one good swat on the hand after four-year-old Junior runs into the street as being in the same class as the people who beat kids to death or regularly pummel them etc.

I know good, loving parents who have NEVER spanked their children. I also can tell you about non-spanking parents whose discipline methods make me cringe.

I want to say that calling your daughter a worthless f-ing maggot… well, I’d rather personally get a good slap and then have it be over than hear those words spoken over me on a regular basis by people I love. But I’ve seen stuff like that done.

WHERE the line crosses into abuse is of course the idea we’re discussing. Honestly, I don’t know where the line is, except to say I can tell you when someone’s way over it. :] But what I’d prefer? I’d rather see one quick spank on a young kid than the screaming and harranguing I’ve seen other moms do sometimes to “reason” with their kids. My.

Then, too…

I need to tell you I see things unusually. I have different-type kids. And some of the “loving parent” stuff you read in the magazines DOES. NOT. WORK. on these kids. Reasoning doesn’t work. You’re left with very few options… you really are.

Removing “triggers” you can’t always do. Changing the environment you can’t always do. Nor reasoning. I’ve done my best, but if G doesn’t change his ways he’ll wind up in jail eventually. And there is nothing, nothing I can do about it but pray. I’m starting to think God doesn’t give a rip, either. LOL You’d probably agree…

I feel so hopeless!

We walk on eggshells with him sometimes. It’s impossible to understand if you don’t live with it, how other people’s crazy ways WILL make you crazy, too. How easy it is to tell a hurting parent to “just be consistent” and the kid will learn. It isn’t true. Some of us parents of really special-needs kids are being sold a whopping LIE, and then we feel crappy when there is no way that we can live up to it.

You know, “boundaries” aren’t going to work for truly disabled people. I am afraid of the day he turns 18 because we’ll have to implement these boundaries that don’t work for the sake of the other children… they are growing up seeing this guy throw chairs and punch holes into walls and think this is normal teen angst. It isn’t.

How to discipline a child like that?

No, I’m not spanking him. But if another mom somehow had the same kid, I could genuinely understand her perspective if she did.

When G was very young and raged, I’d put him in the car seat and sit next to him… try to talk calmly with him. When he was older I put him in his room and shut the door, telling him he could come out when he was ready. If he came out screaming, I’d just pick him up and plunk him back in. Bye!

(See, to me, that’s different from the closet-locking Elf experienced at school. But some disciplinary extremists might not view it that way. Elf is just as his blog name implies, a small little guy. He would go hide, and they would drag him out. When he’d run away they’d teach him not to try to get away from school by locking him in a “safe room.” That’ll learn him good!


G doesn’t have problems at school and has never been locked in the safe room alone (but has sat there with door open, I’m ok with that), mostly, because they can tailor the environment to help him! Would you believe it? It’s b/c he has “learning needs” so they don’t think he is smart enough to manipulate the system like they figured Elf was doing LOL! What an odd, odd world we live in. But I have to just hope we find the right med combo or G grows out of some things.)

But with Elf, things MAGICALLY got better within a few weeks of his coming home from school. He knew he was safer with Mom and didn’t have to go back. He learned that if he went and hid because he was overwhelmed, that Mom would be nice and keep the work on the table for him to do later (ha ha! See? The school day doesn’t end at three. It ends when your work is done…LOL).

Ok… so my conclusion? I would be more inclined to agree with people who were more moderate in their declarations than these “spank out” folks. We can agree, say, that when I drop my kid off at church nursery, I should NEVER have to wonder if he’ll be smacked around. Hello, I’m two rooms over… come and get me if there’s a problem. Let ME decide whether to do that or not as my conscience dictates.

Back from looking at my own archives. It looks like I got all chicken and deleted the post about my then-one-year-old Woodjie (still non-verbal!!) getting smacked around in church nursery. Trust me, I gave the pastor a link and things were different after that! Yet I don’t think there should be a law dealing with churches.

I would not fault any parent for using whatever method works for them. I would have to tell you that in the greater marketplace of ideas, that most parents probably DON’T get jollies from spanking kids. I mean, I haven’t asked them… but I don’t think they do.

I think when our public schools quit literally beating children and locking them up, that we can talk about how that would “look” in a functional family. I mean, if the school can’t discipline children without employing these “techniques,” it isn’t fair to expect we poor unwashed and untrained parents to be able to do so.

(BTW, that is one reason that I hate this “don’t ask” thing in the military. I feel it’s governmental “do as I say, not as I do.”)

I suppose that what I’m *trying* to get at is that I’m distrustful of all the people who are SUPPOSED to help. I’ve been disappointed by the schools, the medical people and just about everyone you could think of.

Well, maybe I didn’t have a point. Maybe I’m just chatting.

1 05 2009

I think you’re doing a lot more than just chatting, Mrs C. {{{hugs}}}

1 05 2009
Mrs. C


I’m not even sure if I’m making coherent sense! So please forgive if I have said anything offensive in my post. I changed diapers, did un-positive discipline (singing instead of yelling ! LOL My kids hate my singing worse so it *works* for me) and made lunch while typing that.

Thanks for the hug!

1 05 2009

Reminds me of real music torture, where they played some kind of obnoxious music outside a holed-up dictator’s compound until he gave in. (who WAS that, Noriega?)

1 05 2009
Mrs. C

LOL, I was thinking WACO and how they enjoyed the music there! Little Rose will clap her hands and sign “more” after I sing the “You’d better stop it ooooooorrrr there will be lots of trouble la la la la laa.”

Elf and Emperor are going, quit it, girlie!! The girl even dances to it, too.

Oh, and an alternative to smacking your kids that is not discussed in these parenting classes? CLAPPING your hands while you sing these obnoxious songs that grate the nerves. You can get that good smack feeling in there and know you’re really hurting someone. Yourself. LOL

1 05 2009

Mrs. C

I just wanted to echo JJ’s remark:

I think you’re doing a lot more than just chatting, Mrs C. {{{hugs}}}

And, please forgive me if I have said anything offensive in my post. It sounds like (w/respect to your son, G) you’re going through experiences similar to some that I had w/my son (now 24). The powerlessness and – in my case -grief so profound you feel it physically. And, trite do’s and don’t’s from people like me. I’m very sorry if I offended you.


1 05 2009
Mrs. C

Lynn, you have *not* offended me. I just felt like I needed to explain myself *why* I feel these no-spank blogs and ideals can seem so… disconnected from reality, so I unloaded the dump truck. beep, beep!

I’m glad to know I’m not alone. So often I feel alone. It is just really hard to understand the level of dysfunction unless you live it day to day.

Right now, we’re going through a *good* spot. That could change tomorrow or next month for no apparent reason. We’ve discussed hospitalization, but were told that unless he were homicidal or suicidal that we can forget it. But things can get pretty bad. The guilt can be overwhelming, too.

I can’t tell the school what is really going on or they’ll ship him off with the emotionally disturbed kids! He has enough trouble already. I wish there were a place of amnesty where ideas could be had, taken or left. I wish social workers didn’t just have a hotline to swoop and take kids away, but also one where someone could anonymously chat about what to do next and get ideas about what help there is in the community. If any. Maybe there isn’t any.

Does that make sense?

I like the idea of Parents as Teachers, where someone from the district comes over (your tax money) and talks about what to expect with your little one this month. It’s totally voluntary. Nobody makes you call. They can discuss good discipline techniques, but as part of an overall hello visit.

It’s open to all incomes and isn’t a court-ordered thing (I don’t think).

I wish they had something like that for older children. Voluntary. All income. Just a short visit, find out what resources there are. Then it isn’t just tailored for the messed-up family and there’s no stigma.

Well, anyway.

Maybe we are more than chatting after all!

1 05 2009

Mrs. C, I hear your frustration. I’m currently homeschooling, I have five kids and one on the way, and two of my sons are on the spectrum. What works for other people doesn’t always work for us. And Lord knows spanking isn’t going to be any better, because especially our special needs children aren’t going to process that well. But what do we do instead? And how can we judge one another when our family’s needs are so varied?

I don’t know that there are any easy answers for families like ours, but I have a lot of faith and a lot of hope. And this is a great conversation to keep having. If nothing else we parents HAVE to encourage one another.

1 05 2009
Nance Confer

Mrs. C, you aren’t saying that spanking is an answer. Right? When your son rages, spanking isn’t what works. Right?

Trying to get clear on that.

And then onto Anne’s very good question. “But what do we do instead?”

I’m pretty sure my singing would qualify as some sort of child abuse 🙂 but I’m also sure that wouldn’t stop a raging child. I think I’m sure anyway. Not being in your shoes.

So, no ragging on the kid about being a useless person, as in the horrible example you provide.

No striking the child. No what else? Isolation beyond a certain line? Maybe that’s what certain kids need. A break. That seems to be what you are saying with the break room.

But it strikes me that you are being failed by the med/psychiatric professionals you are seeing. If all they can say is wait until it gets so bad hospitalization is an option.

OTOH, I don’t think these spank-out prods are generally meant for such special circumstances as yours. They are meant for the parents of average children who hit their kids. And think that is an appropriate response to normal childhood behavior. It isn’t.


1 05 2009

Not to discount the special challenge of kids on the spectrum and that’s an important conversation I am humbled to have come up here, please continue, but Nance is right, this was really my thought, why I posted in the first place:

“OTOH, I don’t think these spank-out prods are generally meant for such special circumstances as yours. They are meant for the parents of average children who hit their kids. And think that is an appropriate response to normal childhood behavior. It isn’t. “

1 05 2009
Mrs. C

Nance, I know of great parents who do spank sparingly. I don’t think it’s appropriate for children who have rages like G, but as frustrating as dealing with this is, and as little REAL help as I’ve gotten from secular sources, I sure wouldn’t judge parents who employ the technique moderately… but I fear greatly that children like G are very likely to be abused. I KNOW how mad this sort of thing can make the calmest person… I am concerned that some of this information cited may be absolutely right, and in an out of control child with a parent (following the traditional “formula”) who thinks that just hitting a little harder one more time and one more time and one more… to break his spirit… well, I shudder to think in most homes like that G wouldn’t even be alive!!! So people like the Pearls flat out scare me to death because I KNOW PEOPLE WHOSE CHILDREN ARE IN THAT. And yes, some of them have special needs, may God help them.

But I also don’t think the advice in parenting magazines and etc. is appropriate for children like G. I think too lax parenting can lead to all sorts of social ills as well. A child whose parents never teach consequences is a child who may have some very bad problems down the road (no, I don’t think anyone here is advocating that). Actually Rational Jenn has some great posts on reasoning with her children (neurotypical) that I found just wonderful. You can see that there ARE consequences for behaviour but without some of the Christian framework that I would use. Well, when I read her posts I feel I’m looking into a whole new world.

I don’t see her waving her finger out and going, “YOU STINK! I’m doing it better!” She’s an evangelist, though, I would figure, for her parenting techniques. There, just included the general link if you’re interested.


I feel sometimes that extreme jugmentalism from both sides of the debate is unhelpful. I’ve heard derision from conservatives about those “gentle parents” with a bit of eyerolling. I’ve also seen people paint with a rather broad brush those parents who choose to include spanking in their plan.

Also, I don’t know of any Quakers who spank, so I sure don’t see that it necessarily has to be a “Christian” perspective that spanking is appropriate (no matter what Dobson may have you believe LOL). Why some Christian folks think that spanking is somehow NECESSARY is beyond me.

But I feel that barring extremes that this is something each parent should decide for him/herself. I guess I was just VENTING that really, I’m in a hard place with this particular child. The “specialists” tell me things like to go have a plan in place for when/if necessary to go to a hospital, but the insurance co. won’t give ANY information about what the proper steps would be unless you start a case file etc. Which I don’t want to do if I am not getting benefits anyway, and I don’t know what the procedure would be? Why would I divulge all that just to hear “no?” And that would really count against him if HE needs insurance later?

I feel like I need an advocate, but there is no one I can trust with this sensitive information IRL that wouldn’t potentially use it against us. I’m also told to get all this super-expensive in home therapy that my insurance doesn’t cover and we don’t have money for, but since we’re rich we don’t get it free. We paid $11 in income tax, so see, we’re not poor enough.

ANYWAY, the spank-out idea is an interesting enough one, but I don’t think it’s getting through to the people who need to hear it. I think sometimes we all talk PAST each other… hear what we want to in others’ remarks? Sometimes listening is hard.

1 05 2009
Mrs. C

PS I would have to agree with you, Nance, that spanking is NOT an appropriate response to normal childhood behaviour. Mark your calendar. We just agreed. :p

1 05 2009
Mrs. C

ARg! But I also don’t think it should be illegal. Sorry to hog the comment section. Am logging off for the night now, I promise!

1 05 2009

I was just reading at Rational Jenn’s today (again) and musing to myself that I knew a lot more when my kids were little than I do now, too. 😉

Age really does change your perspective and humble your parenting prescriptions imo. Then there may not be much you are still sure of but what little there is, you become VERY confident in.

1 05 2009

“I knew a lot more when my kids were little than I do now, too. :)”

I’m thinking that by this time next year I will know absolutely nothing. Mark your calendars 😉

1 05 2009

LOL Lynn, marking now —

I went looking for this post from COD’s Thinking Parent wiki experiment, to elaborate on the point:

Without kids, what would I know worth knowing?

I can’t take it to pieces to see how it works, or swap the parts around, put it back together again in alternate form to see what might have been.

I think in the process of learning so much from having these kids, I’ve learned to respect the unknowable, to be humble before its power. That isn’t a religious statement to me. It’s just life as I know it.

1 05 2009

About reaching parents who most need to be reached — I don’t think it can be done unless and until they receptive anyway.

I don’t have links but it brings to mind the the study in the news now, about how conservatives believe Stephen Colbert is one of them and on their side — reflecting the same finding about people who shared Archie Bunker’s bigotries and thus saw him as old-fashioned and charming. They missed the point completely.

1 05 2009

I’m one of those crazy parents who hates government intervention in my home, but I actually kinda do hope that one day spanking is as verboten as spousal abuse. We don’t have the right to hit someone because we’re bigger, stronger, or the “authority”. I’m a believer that, if you have to spank to show your in a position of authority, it’s not as strong as you think.

But I don’t judge most parents for spanking. I think most do it because it was done to them and they don’t know any different. Certainly some have been made to think it’s a biblical mandate (something I disagree with wholeheartedly and have written about on my homeschooling blog).

Spanking would definitely not work on a spectrum kid. My typical reaction to raging is to become calmer and quiter. If all else fails, a bear hug to offer sensory input.

But even on my NT (neurotypical) kids, what good is spanking? Most of the time it just allows them to feel sorry for themselves, not what they’ve done. It takes away our teachable moments, it’s the easy way out, it’s ineffective (except to breed fear and an adversarial relationship) and there are better ways.

But discipline is important! Vital! How will my kids know that I’m safe, that I can take on the world for them, if they can walk all over me. They need boundaries to learn how to set the boundaries that will protect them later. They need guidance so that they don’t get lost in the world. Discipline is so important and to deny them the discipline they need is to do them a great disservice.

Sorry for the novel. I’m a leetle bit passionate about this topic.

JJ, I think Stephen Colbert is hot. 😉 We conservatives (though I’m a crunchy con) have got to be able to laugh at ourselves.

1 05 2009

Anne, did you happen to see the night Colbert had his brother on, the lawyer? His real-life brother, Ed I think — I forget what they were discussing but in the span of a few minutes, the brother took every single position possible, spinning on a dime and without blinking an eye. Good lawyer. 🙂

Oh wait, I do remember. It was copyright when there’s complex ownership and contributions, as in when a photograph is graphically changed into another form of art (the Obama poster from an AP photo was the case the point.)

2 05 2009

I haven’t see that episode. I may have to try to look it up on You Tube.

21 05 2009
Mrs. C

HEY! I just found an excellent post on the whole issue from a parent’s perspective:

I thought you-all still reading would enjoy it.

28 09 2010
EDUCATION NATION Tuesday: Different Memes for Different Dreams « Cocking A Snook!

[…] the adults” even before kindergarten as the key education skill, all left me cold. Obedience to authority on pain of righteous punishment types will reject this, no doubt, but they are reasoning like little kids. As adults, the reasoning stage […]

3 11 2011
“Spanking”: This is what’s wrong with it « Cocking A Snook!

[…] Can you go all day without hitting a child?: 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? […]

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