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Domestic CP - August 2001

masthead Toronto Star, 2 August 2001

Spanking useful, callers suggest

After their parents agreed not to spank them while the matter is before the courts, seven children aged 6 to 14 were returned to their home in Aylmer last week. They'd been taken into foster care because the parents, members of a fundamentalist religious group, allegedly obeyed a Biblical admonition not to spoil their children by sparing the rod. The Criminal Code allows spanking of children within limits.

Tuesday's question was: Are children who are spanked better behaved than children who are not?

-- Yes. Children would show respect to their elders like we did when we were children. The thing is there's no discipline. That's the problem. Schools are not allowed to discipline and we tell parents they can't. Unless a child is severely abused, the government should get out of people's homes.

-- No. They don't behave any different. They're intimidated. They're shy and intimidated. I've seen it with my own eyes, helpless little children beaten for nothing at all, just for being children. It just sickens me.

-- Yes. I have a nephew. He's disciplined by "time out" and the kid's a monster from hell. He will end up in jail before he's 13.

-- No. We are living in 2001 now, not 1901.

-- A resounding yes. I've seen my share of a destructive little hellions running wild in a store, a restaurant and other places while mommy begs and pleads, trying in vain to control him with psychobabble instead of giving the kid a swift swat on his behind.

-- Spanking is not a yes-or-no issue. Some children respond quickly to a reprimand without spanking, but others don't respond despite numerous spankings. A parent has to find what works for them.

-- When I was a kid I used to get spankings all the time, at least for my first 10 years, and it did a lot of good to me. I had the same treatment for my four children and they all turned out good people, excellent people. You see the kids today and you can tell they've never seen rules or spanking.

-- I don't know whether to vote yes or no. But when children are spanked or hit with rod or a strap, I think that practice is obscene. And when a parent or any adult pulls down the pants of a child to spank a bare bottom, I find that obscene and deviant behaviour.

masthead Washington Post, 2 August 2001

Canadians Flee in Spanking Dispute

Church Members Take U.S. Refuge

By William Claiborne
Washington Post Staff Writer

CHICAGO, Aug. 1 -- More than 100 women and children from a fundamentalist church in Canada have fled their homes for rural communities in the Midwest over fears that authorities will seize their children because church members administer spankings with switches and paddles.

The 28 mothers and their 80 children, members of the Church of God, a nondenominational church in Aylmer, Ontario, say they may ask for asylum in the United States.

Child welfare workers in southern Ontario took seven siblings from their home on July 4 because of corporal punishment meted out by parents. The children were returned home July 26 after their parents agreed not to use physical punishment while the matter is before the courts. The parents were prohibited from leaving the province.

"The whole issue is spanking and discipline, and how we see in modern times that when parents don't discipline their children, it leads to all kinds of societal problems," said Daniel Layne, a Church of God pastor in California and the group's spiritual adviser.

"Switching is used as a last resort, but the Scriptures clearly call for it and we won't give it up," said Layne, who was in Farmland, Ind., with some of the self-described refugees.

Layne said the families moved to Ohio and Indiana because those states have more permissive laws governing corporal punishment for children than Ontario, which allows spanking only within the bounds of "reasonable force." Canadian case law has interpreted that as prohibiting the use of objects such as paddles, sticks and belts, according to child welfare officials.

In the United States, there are no laws that specifically make parental corporal punishment unlawful. But there is a wide variety of child abuse laws that define when a child subjected to corporal punishment becomes an abused child, experts in the field said.

The law in Ohio, for example, effectively prohibits corporal punishment that creates a "substantial risk of serious physical harm," including hospitalization, risk of death, permanent incapacity or disfigurement.

"Basically it rules out the rack," said Robert Surgenor, a former Berea, Ohio, police detective who wrote a book favoring child spanking called "No Fear: A Police Officer's Perspective." However, in Florida, causing a red welt on a child's skin can lead to a fourth-degree felony charge and a five-year prison term, he said.

Howard A. Davidson, director of the American Bar Association's Center on Children and the Law, said there have been several cases, including in Vermont and Michigan, where child welfare agencies intervened when religious practices called for corporal punishment.

He said there are no religious exemptions from physical child abuse, and states are fairly equally divided between strict and lenient definitions of when corporal punishment becomes child abuse.

Three weeks ago, when child welfare officials in Ontario ordered a second family of church members to report for an interview, all of the congregation's other mothers and children under 16 left Canada to live with Church of God members in Ohio and Indiana. They said they were afraid their children would eventually be seized if the corporal punishment law was not changed.

One of the self-exiled mothers in Farmland, Christine Rabel, said she "occasionally" uses a switch on some of her four children, who range in age from 8 years to 9 months, because "I was raised that way and that's the way I want to raise my children."

Rabel, whose husband, Karl, remained in Aylmer because of his electronics maintenance job, said she would rather move back to Canada if child welfare officials eased their prohibitions against corporal punishment. But she said that if it comes to seeking asylum in the United States, she and the other mothers would welcome it.

Ontario officials "should look at the whole family and not just at the law. We'll stay here until we get the okay that we're not going to be checked up on," Rabel said in a telephone interview.

Marijke den Bak, acting director of Family and Children's Services for the Aylmer region, said today, "We are certainly keen to find a resolution and not see this drag on through the courts forever." She said she was meeting with members of the church who are still in Aylmer in hopes of reaching a compromise.

The child welfare official said the church's allegations that excessive force was used when authorities dragged the seven children, screaming, from their Aylmer home on July 4 are "not a legitimate issue." But she conceded that the removal was "unpleasant and traumatic for the children, and we certainly wish it could have been done differently."

Den Bak declined to comment on whether marks indicating excessive physical punishment had been found on any of the seven children, who were not identified.

Layne said the group is talking with attorneys and unnamed "political figures" about the possibility of the families seeking asylum in the United States on the grounds of religious persecution.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in Washington, Karen Kraushaar, said the INS reviews all asylum claims on a case-by-case basis. She said the first step for the church members in seeking asylum would be establishing a "credible fear" of being returned to Canada and facing persecution or torture. Then would come the more difficult test of documenting a "well-founded" basis for such fears.

Herbert Hildebrandt, a church official and the son of the Aylmer congregation's pastor, Henry Hildebrandt, said, "Our objective is that they [the exiles] come home, but we have to explore all other options in case things don't work out here. Seeking asylum is a contingency."

Peter Hildebrandt, Henry Hildebrandt's brother and pastor of a Church of God congregation near Cuauhtemoc in the northern Mexican province of Chihuahua, said four families had fled there.

"We believe the Bible teaches it [spanking], and everybody knows that when parents neglect to discipline their children, the police do it in the street," Hildebrandt said in a telephone interview. He added that he believes "you can spank in a loving and kind way."

Layne, who was instrumental in founding the church in 1989, said it is more conservative than other congregations that carry the Church of God name. He said most adult members came from German-speaking Mennonite communities in Mexico or were once active in the German Church of God movement. The Hildebrandts are former Mennonites.

Researcher Lynn Davis contributed to this report.

2001 The Washington Post Company

masthead Calgary Sun, 5 August 2001

Our Family Values Risk Official Erosion

By Ted Byfield

News story: The seven children of an apparently functional Aylmer, Ont., couple are dragged shouting and weeping away from their neat, tidy home by a contingent of police and social workers and made temporary wards of the province.

Why? Were the youngsters sexually abused? No. Physically injured? No. Imprisoned, starved, tortured? No. No. No.

Then did they appear persecuted, miserable, ill-behaved? No.

The neighbour next door described them as "clean, well-dressed, well-behaved, happily playing on their bikes and with toys, and always smiling."

Then why?

Because, says the Ontario Children's Aid Society, the parents routinely disciplined their children by spanking them.

But that's altogether legal in Canada. The Ontario courts have just said so, unless the Crown can prove the spanking was excessive. However, the Ontario society has apparently decided that any spanking at all shall be deemed excessive.

News story: A cover article in Time magazine asks: "Do Kids Have Too Much Power?" The answer: unquestionably. The implication: That we're raising a bunch of spoiled brats who are lippy, constantly challenging parental and school authority, and have respect for neither adults nor one another.

Television story: Vince Cellini, acting as host of CNN's Talk- Back Live produces a major show on the question: "Are we spoiling our kids?" The answer: Yes, and badly, but we can't help it.

Parents work so hard they feel guilty and give their kids anything they ask for. How can they say no to a new mountain bike with two new cars in the garage?

And divorced parents compete for the kids' affection by vying against each other in generosity.

Result: Children never hear the word "No" and when their parents order them to do something, they take this as an occasion, not for obedience, but for "dialogue."

Then Cellini asked his studio audience to raise their hands if they ever spanked their kids. Practically every hand in the studio went up. Some, however, said they nevertheless fear the onslaught of social workers when they do it.

They meant, of course, people like the Ontario Children's Aid Society that has taken upon itself to enforce a law that doesn't exist.

Ask our social planners why they're doing this and they're quick with answers: Children who are spanked are being taught that "violence" is acceptable. Children raised under threat of "violence" will therefore be more prone to it.

Surveys show that men who beat their wives and are otherwise violent were spanked as children.

What saps they take us for. Go back 35 years and practically every youngster was spanked -- future wife-beaters and future non-wife-beaters.

For their contention to be true, they would have to establish that people now in, say, their fifties, nearly all of whom were spanked, are far more prone to violence than younger people. Since there is no evidence of this whatsoever, what we're being fed is simply nonsense.

In any event, we now see a generation raised without "violence." How is it turning out?

Answer: It's recording the most violent levels of juvenile crime we have ever experienced. Children in seemingly tranquil suburban neighbourhoods must go to school armed.

Teachers are threatened. We have to inaugurate "zero-tolerance" policies on "bullying." Children are wounded or slain by other school children.

The supposed "reform," that is, is producing precisely the opposite of what it promised. The dogma -- Thou Shalt Not Spank -- which is being ferociously enforced by social agencies, is plainly a lie, a fraud and a failure.

The Aylmer kids have been returned to their parents on condition they not be spanked until the court case against them is resolved. Social workers meanwhile patrol the house.

The integrity and authority of the family is being grievously attacked by officialdom.

The Children's Aid obviously plans to make an example of this family as a warning to the public. They don't care if they lose the case. The idea is to frighten parents from spanking.

Maybe another kind of example could be set here.

What we need is a public fund enabling these parents to personally sue for their every last nickel the bureaucrats who made this decision.

That, too, would teach a lesson and it would be a long, long time before a case like this happened again.

masthead London Free Press, Ontario, 22 August 2001

Book Excerpts

The following are excerpts from the book Mommy, Daddy, We Would See Jesus -- Training our Children for the Glory of God.

Steve Bailey, executive director of St. Thomas-Elgin Child and Family Services, confirmed family service has a copy of the book given by members of the Aylmer Church of God.

Highlighted passages appear as they do in the book.

The Challenge to Parents:

Just as there are certain techniques which work for dogs, so there are techniques for training children . . .

Do you desire for your children to willingly bend over and stand still for a spanking instead of running from you; cry softly instead of screaming like they are being murdered; give you a hug afterwards and sincerely tell you how much they love you? You can experience it with proper training . . . I know of a 10-month-old who learned to lie quietly in his crib and go to sleep by himself without being rocked -- after only two nights of training him to do so. But the mom had to be determined. She could not give in to his crying, and had to use the switch on his little leg to make him believe she meant business. She had to persistently lay him back down when she found him standing up, and spank him for not obeying. That is training.

The Beauty of the Rod:

The use of the rod is not fashionable among unbelievers today. Not so with the saints of God . . .

It is important to correct with that which God tells us to use. A rod simply means a stick, such as a switch from a tree. A small dowel rod which may be purchased at your local variety store, is a convenient example . . . The rod spoken of in the scriptures does not mean the hand, a belt, razor strap, or paddle . . . With the proper wrist action, the rod won't break and the sting will be felt . . . The size of the rod should vary with the age of the child . . . The rod is a neutral object. It is not like the hand, which is a part of the person. Hands are for protection and comfort . . .

You may already know the proper techniques for administering a spanking. For those who don't, these hints are given to help . . . Children should bend over and touch a chair or the bed with their hands, be required to stand still for the correction, and cry softly instead of screaming loudly. Following the correction, the child needs to be restored to the fellowship of the parent through prayer and embrace.

An effective spanking must be more than one or two swats. That would be sufficient for an eight-month-old, but only angers or amuses an older child. Seven is a complete number in the Bible, so we picked that number to use on our children most of the time . . . Satan always stands at our right hand to hinder us from doing what is proper and effective. You will be tempted to spank your child either too little or too much. Child abuse is wrong!

A spanking will range from a smart smack on the thigh of an infant (six months to a year old) to a sound spanking with the "rod" for older children. . .

A sound spanking will range from three to 12 licks (depending on the age and stubbornness of the child) with the rod on the child' s buttocks. A child should not be slapped in the face or boxed on the ears. I have heard of parents who have spanked their children with "50 licks." That is abusive! . . . If you do not understand how to produce a submissive, obedient child with three to 12 licks of the rod, study this book until you do . . .

It is an act of faith in God and His Word to obey His commands for us in the correction of our children. If we deny privileges instead of spank; if we nag and threaten instead of spank; if we sit them in the corner or send them to their rooms; if we make them miss meals or withhold affection; if we do any of these instead of using the rod, what we are saying is "Surely there is a better way. God just doesn't know what He is talking about."

Tough and Tender:

If the spankings you are administering do not seem to be producing happy, obedient children, then something is wrong. You are either spanking in anger or you are not being consistent. If the spankings are not effective: they are either too easy, not enough swats, or too much diaper or clothing preventing the sting from being felt . . . .

Because of the society in which we live, we should be careful to avoid correcting our children in a public place where we could be arrested for what they would call child abuse. (Satan has certainly perverted the minds of men! The worldly minded call it abuse when proper spankings are given in love. Sinful parents . . . withhold spankings until they become so frustrated and angry that they actually do abuse their children!)

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Colin Farrell 2001
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