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www.corpun.com   :  Archive   :  2004   :  US Domestic Nov 2004

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UNITED STATES

Domestic CP - November 2004



Corpun file 14504

masthead
Naples Daily News, Florida, 4 November 2004

Local guest commentary

Spanking can provide a valuable life lesson to child

By Dr Louis Moore
Special to the Daily News

There has been a lot in the news lately about spanking.

I would like to point out that with my 81 years I have a longer view than most of your readers. I would like to address the issue from two levels — the broad impact on society and my personal experience.

Are things better since the psychologists began to propose their "no hit" theories 30 years ago? When I was 13 years old, juvenile crime was stealing watermelons, hub caps and sugar cane. It also included sneaking a smoke or, more rarely, a drink of illegal whiskey. Most homes in my small Georgia town had one or more guns, but I never heard of a teenager shooting anyone.

Police were looked on as friends — unless you were caught in some escapade. School classrooms were orderly and most students worked hard to get good grades — and to avoid summer school.

Punishment for infractions at school was swift and certain and you hoped your parents didn't hear about it.

Today juvenile crime is stealing automobiles, breaking and entering, mugging little old ladies and shooting each other. Teachers are threatened and classrooms are anything but orderly. Punishment is postponed or not even certain. Police are "pigs" and considered enemies. Parents have to call the police to control their kids.

One should make a clear distinction between appropriate punishment and child abuse. The formula was quite simple: "There are rules. If you break them there are consequences — often painful." This an important lesson and if learned early will serve one throughout life.

Child abuse occurs when the punishment is unduly harsh and causes injuries — or when the punishment is not appropriate for the offense, such as a child making a simple mistake.

Then psychologists made the discovery that many child abusers had been abused as children. They then decided that any corporal punishment was child abuse; therefore anyone who spanks a child was a child abuser and that would produce children with seriously warped personalities — lack of self-esteem, etc.

That is twisted logic.

When I was growing up almost every boy got whippings and spankings. None of the people I knew at school ever reported child abuse, although it did happen around the fringes. None of those school friends — several hundred — that I grew up with turned out to be child abusers or had warped personalities. In fact, today we are referred to as "The Greatest Generation."

My grandfather got whippings, my father got whippings, I got whippings and my son got whippings. All of us turned out to be upright citizens and there was no lingering resentment since we knew that we only got a whipping when we broke a rule (and got caught).

We learned a valuable lesson: Don't break the rules, or there will be consequences.

Dr. Moore came to Naples as its 10th doctor in 1958. He says: "I watched the hospital (then 50 beds) and town grow up over the next 35 years while I did general practice with a bunch of wonderful doctors. I semi-retired in 1983 and go to my one-room office two days a week and pretend to work. I am best known for wearing Bermuda shorts to work and riding a beat-up old bicycle. I still hold a pilot's license and own a sailboat. And, by the way, I have celebrated my 55th wedding anniversary."

Copyright 2004, Naples Daily News. All Rights Reserved.




Corpun file 14616

Baltimore Sun, Maryland, 14 November 2004

Spanking revisited

Some of today's kids do and say things their parents would've been smacked for. Should they be spanked? For some parents, the answer isn't easy.

By Kate Shatzkin
Sun Staff

Frank Hudson says he doesn't spank his 3-year-old son. But sometimes he wonders whether he's doing the right thing.

When he was growing up in West Baltimore, parents didn't hesitate to swat the bottoms of children who did wrong. Neither did the neighbors.

"What I'm trying to say is, we weren't as cruel and mean and talking-back as these children are today, and they don't get whipped at all," Hudson, a 40-year-old contractor, says during a "Positive Parenting" class at the nonprofit Family Tree in Baltimore.

Across the table, Family Tree staffer Krystal Nunn replies she, too, was a product of spanking. But it didn't improve her behavior.

"Spanking me didn't lead me not to run my mouth," she says. "All it taught me was to prepare for the next spanking."

To spank or not to spank? Child-development experts have been recommending against it for decades. But though the numbers have been going down, polls show that many parents still believe physical punishment of children is appropriate.

Fewer than half the respondents to an American Demographics survey earlier this year said spanking was acceptable punishment. In the past, various studies have found up to 90 percent of parents spanked their children at least occasionally.

But 70 percent of respondents to the American Demographics survey said that kids' behavior today is worse than it was a decade ago, and that permissive parents are partly to blame.

On one side of the debate are well-known child specialists like Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, who say spanking is never the right way to discipline. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises its members to reduce bad behavior by giving children time-outs or taking away privileges. "Corporal punishment is of limited effectiveness and has potentially deleterious side effects," reads its policy, set in 1998.

The latest study on the effects of spanking, released in September by the University of Michigan School of Social Work, found that even "minimal amounts" of spanking led to more antisocial behavior in children.

At the other extreme is James Dobson, a former assistant professor of pediatrics who now runs the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family. In The New Strong-Willed Child (Tyndale, $24.99), a 2004 update of a parenting book first published a quarter-century ago, Dobson writes that slapping of the fingers and later spanking can be necessary, particularly to deter dangerous behavior.

"In those situations when the child fully understands what he is being asked to do or not to do but refuses to yield to adult leadership, an appropriate spanking is the shortest and most effective route to an attitude adjustment," he writes.

Lisa Whelchel, a former star of the television show The Facts of Life, recently wrote a book that advocates "hot saucing" children's tongues with a painful drop of a liquid like Tabasco if they bite, lie or mouth off.

Dr. Larry Wissow, a child psychiatrist and professor at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, likens the corporal punishment debate to the political divide over "red" and "blue" states. It's further complicated, he said, by the inconsistency of data over the years.

"This is behavior that occurs in private and can't be measured with a laboratory test," Wissow said. "It's very hard to study. Your interpretation of the data is still going to be driven a lot by your moral convictions about the behavior itself."

Wissow co-authored a study earlier this year that found white children who were spanked frequently before turning 2 had more behavioral problems in school than their peers. No such differences were found for African-American or Hispanic children. But he cautioned that many factors may have influenced those results.

In the middle are parents - many in two-income families, many raising kids on their own, many trying to teach children to navigate a perilous world - whose everyday conduct falls somewhere between the extremes.

Louise Gifford of Hanover has struggled with the issue for years. As a single parent in her 20s, she spanked her oldest daughter frequently. Time-outs didn't work - but neither, in the end, did spanking. Now that she's 39 and remarried, Gifford says she employs different strategies with her younger children, ages 2, 5 and 6, though she occasionally spanks the older ones. "We're really still searching for better methods," she said.

Hudson says that because of his own childhood memories of spanking, he doesn't spank his son. Instead, the boy sits in a "discipline chair" after he has misbehaved.

David Hendricks, who shares custody of his 4-year-old son and attended the Family Tree class, said he had spanked the boy once, after he spat at another child.

"I put two socks on my hands and spanked him on his bottom, and I called his mother and said why I did it," he said. "That was the first and only time." If the boy appears about to seriously misbehave, Hendricks said, "I just look at him or change my voice tone. He knows the consequences."

Since going to the parenting class, Tori Leak said she had stopped spanking her son, now 13, even though he's a "handful." It's a reversal from what she used to believe, and from her upbringing in North Carolina.

Now, says Leak, she focuses on listening to her son. "I have to give him some leeway and see where he's coming from," she said. "I can't raise him the way my mother raised me 30 years ago."

As a pediatrician, Dr. Alice Tsai recommends against spanking. But she suspects that many parents who visit the St. Agnes Hospital clinic where she practices do it anyway.

As the parent of two young children, she can understand the impulse, though she does not believe in ever giving in to it. "There certainly are times when you really feel frustrated with your kids," Tsai said.

Jerry Wyckoff, a family psychologist and author of Getting Your Child From No to Yes: Without Nagging, Bribing or Threatening (Simon & Schuster, $10), said the hectic pace of life keeps spanking alive. "We've sort of lost touch with strategies," he said. "People are frustrated, they don't have a lot of time, and they want results now."

Wyckoff said parents who take the time to show their children how they want them to behave can reduce the need for any type of punishment. "My child needs to know how to go with me to the grocery store," he said. "We're going to practice those things, and then I'm going to reinforce those by praising."

The debate extends to whether to allow spanking in schools. Twenty-eight states, including Maryland, have banned corporal punishment, but 22 allow it.

In Brookline, Mass., a suburb of Boston, officials this year briefly considered making it town policy to discourage parents and child care workers from spanking. The city of Oakland, Calif., turned back a similar measure in 1999.

In Seattle, a police officer was suspended after spanking an 8-year-old boy who had repeatedly run away from home. The boy's mother, a single parent, had asked the officer to do whatever he could to get the boy to mind - including spanking.

Robert Fathman, president of the anti-spanking Center for Effective Discipline in Ohio, said despite the divisions, spanking is slowly becoming more socially unacceptable. "The trends are in our direction. I don't think we'll eliminate it entirely right now, because it's a change in a social habit and that's going to take a lot of time."

Judy Templeton, supervisor of Healthy Families Howard County, which helps first-time parents improve their child-rearing skills, worries that stopping spanking may require more than changing the minds of today's parents. Their children may still use physical punishment on their own children, she said, because of the violent images in popular culture.

"We have so many things going on for kids that are violent; all the things on the TV and the computer," she said. "I don't feel hopeful because of that. We don't know what this generation's going to do."

Copyright © 2004, The Baltimore Sun




Corpun file 14591

Boston Herald, Massachusetts, 16 November 2004

Brookline, time to spare the Ron

By Mike Barnicle

Brookline is famous for terrific schools, high taxes, wonderful police and fire departments, relatively safe streets and the world-renowned Busy Bee restaurant. Itís also a town where they think really big thoughts and have a view of life that often goes a bit beyond the borders of their own neighborhood.

Actually, Brookline has often been called the municipal equivalent of people who walk around wearing a sandwich board loudly proclaiming one point of view or another on issues that even Stephen Hawking hasn't thought about. A Brookline Town Meeting can make a Cambridge City Council hearing look like a gathering of disinterested, uninvolved shirkers.

And tonight's fall gathering won't be any different It's usually a quaint mixture of pep rally, civic pride and circus act. And one of the items under consideration is a left over from last year when it was dumped by a majority vote.

It's a resolution urging the town to oppose spanking. Once again, it's been filed by a local publicity hound named Ron.

"I opposed it last year and I'll oppose it this year," Bobby Alien, Jr., chairman of the Board of Selectmen said yesterday. "We get a lot of resolutions. We even had one resolution that would have us study the impact of old resolutions."

Ron the publicity hound has reams of paper explaining and documenting his concern about spanking. His big resolution is almost enough to provoke a resolution condemning the killing of trees that provide pulp for his nonsense.

Ron throws put a lot of statistics. Some are weird. None more so than when he alleges that, "national surveys show that corporal punishment is common and 25 percent of infants are hit before they are 6 months old."

Say what?

That's an astounding number of babies getting whacked around. It's also totally bogus.

The odd thing is that Ron doesn't have any kids. He just seems to have an excessive and bizarre interest in spanking.

And given Brookline's history, spanking might not make the cut this year. They already nave plenty on their plate with issues such as Fallujah, Sierra Leone, Iran, racism, the mystery that still surrounds the death of Princess Di and the assassination of town native JFK, cholesterol, cell towers, recycling, Fox News, nuclear proliferation and the near criminal behavior of everyone who enjoys diner food and lives in a red state to worry about

Besides, if they lend legitimacy to Ron's hobby, what's next? Resolutions urging the town to oppose Game-Boy, J-Pods, Fruit Loops, lip rings and dressing like a tart at the age of 12? I mean, if Brookline wants to establish itself as a world-class busy-body why stop at spanking?

Most parents quickly realize that raising children is the hardest and most important job they'll ever have. It's rewarding and painful. It's filled with joy and heartache.

Sure, there are people who should never be allowed to have kids.

And anyone who beats a child deserves to be punished by law as well as by other means that the law frowns upon.

In an earlier, more innocent time in our culture, peer pressure and the neighbors would take care of child-abusers before they ever made it to court. But those days are done.

So maybe at Town Meeting this week, someone will introduce a resolution stating: Whereas Ron is clearly a publicity hound and seems intent on wasting our tine, be it hereby resolved that he deserves a good spanking himself.

Who knows? Maybe he'd enjoy it.



Corpun file 14588

masthead
Boston Globe, Massachusetts, 18 November 2004

Brookline rejects measure on spanking

Resolution loses by narrow margin

By David Abel
Globe Staff

Six months after stalling the same measure, members of the Brookline Town Meeting last night narrowly defeated a nonbinding resolution that would have made it town policy to encourage parents and child-care workers not to spank children or use other corporal punishment.

The resolution, submitted again by Brookline resident Ronald Goldman, urged parents to consider alternative disciplinary methods that do not cause pain to a child for punishment and instead promote respect and understanding between parents and children.

"There's a lot of research that shows corporal punishment is harmful, and there's a lot of research that shows it's common," said Goldman, a consulting engineer who said he has studied the subject. "People just continue doing this, without questioning it. This resolution is intended to raise awareness."

The measure, which the town's Board of Selectmen supported last spring, was defeated by the board in a similar vote this fall. Last night, members of the Town Meeting voted against the resolution 75 to 73, with 26 abstentions.

After the vote, Goldman said he had not ruled out raising the issue at a future Town Meeting, a legislative body that consists of 240 elected residents, members of the Board of Selectmen, and any state representative or senator who resides in Brookline.

"I'm disappointed," said Goldman, who spent the past several months lobbying members of the Town Meeting. "I'd rather not have to do this."

The measure returned for another vote because it was not explicitly voted on in last spring's Town Meeting. In June, members voted 105 to 78 to indefinitely postpone a vote on the resolution.

One critic of the resolution last night criticized Goldman for wasting the members' time.

"I feel this is narcissism and grandiosity taken to the extreme," said Karen Wenc, a Town Meeting member.

Others criticized Goldman for telling parents how to raise their children, when he is not a parent.

"I'm exercising my right to walk out of the room," said Linda C. Dean, while Goldman spoke to the meeting. "This guy doesn't even have kids -- and he's going to tell me how to raise my kids?"

One town selectman, however, stuck to his original vote and praised Goldman for raising the issue.

"I support it because it encourages parents to consider alternatives, and I think it's a terrific educational tool," said Selectman Michael Sher, who favored the resolution.

While he recognized some people are uncomfortable telling others not to spank their children and some in the media have lampooned Brookline for debating the issue, Sher said after the vote: "I thought it would go down by more votes than it did, but I'm disappointed. I thought this was the right thing to do."

Massachusetts is one of 27 states that prohibits corporal punishment in public schools. Aside from discipline that rises to a criminal level of abuse, the state has no law regulating spanking or other corporal punishment by parents.

Goldman said his resolution was endorsed by the Massachusetts Society For The Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Massachusetts Citizens for Children, and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Goldman said studies show corporal punishment tends to contribute to negative behavior in children, such as aggression toward other siblings, bullying and disobedience at school, and an erosion of trust between parents and children.

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company



blob Follow-up: 28 May 2005 - Brookline man strikes gold in crusade vs. spanking


Corpun file 14617

Advance-Register, Tulare, California, 22 November 2004

Teachers shouldn't teach religion

Guest Commentary

By Sergio Moran

(extracts)

I am writing this in response to the letter "Teach children to love the Lord."

As a parent, I believe the letter was written with good intentions, however, as a police officer, some parts of the letter disturbed me. As a parent of two, I strongly believe in teaching my children the Word of the Lord, but due to the fact there are so many different religions, it would be impossible to teach each religion in our school system. Home is where religion should be taught, by the parents, and not by the teachers.

[......]

Next, I would like to address your frustration with parents not being able to spank their children. That seems to be the rumor going around; however, as a parent, you may spank your child. I spank mine, however, the law states it shall not be such as that it causes a traumatic condition. Traumatic condition can either be psychological or physical.

Swatting your child on the rear does not mean that Child Protective Services is going to come take your child away. There is a difference between spanking your child and beating your child. The law was written to protect children from being abused, not disciplined.

Another clarification I would like to make, is your belief police are killing children, because they are threatened by them. I do not understand the thinking that went behind that statement. Did you have a bad experience at one time with law enforcement? Did a police officer tell you that?

As a police officer, I pray to God I will never have to use lethal force; unfortunately, I understand I live in an era of violent crime, and the criminals seem to be getting younger. Was it not two weeks ago when they arrested a 13-year-old suspected of murdering two Tulare residents?

There are a lot of young, violent offenders on the streets. That's right, kids carry guns and knives, and teenagers tend to be more unpredictable than adults. Young gang-bangers are trying to establish a reputation by violence, including assaulting police officers. No, I am not threatened by children, however, I use caution when I make contact with them.

I would like to finish this letter by asking you to find time in your schedule and request a ride-along with a police department. It will give you more insight to the danger we face on a daily basis. You will also see how much time we spend as counselors, trying to help people resolve their problems. I hope this letter educates you on some misconceptions of the law.

Sergio Moran lives in Tulare.

Copyright ©2004 Tulare Advance-Register. All rights reserved.



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