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Domestic CP - August 2001

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Amarillo Globe-News, Texas, 20 August 2001

It's All Trew

Razor strop helped develop nation's children

By Delbert Trew

Few things have contributed more to the character and upbringing of our elder Americans than the razor strop.

This one- or two-piece weapon, designed and patented to sharpen straight razors, did double duty as a sure-fire deterrent to orneriness and disobedience.

Our strop had a heavy leather strap to sharpen the blade and a canvas strap to whet the edge.

The Trews were dedicated razor-strop people with the dreaded device hanging at ready behind the bathroom door.

I believe the spot was cunningly chosen as a psychological subject to be studied as one sat on the throne each day. This subtle reminder was always noticed but seldom heeded.

With Mother, little brother Don and I could get away with almost anything up to a certain point. Once we crossed that line, she informed Dad, who fetched the strop, bent each of us over his knees and carried out the sentence according to the severity of the infractions. He seldom listened or questioned Mother's reasoning nor heeded our innocent pleas as he whacked our bottoms.

I can distinctly recall the sound of the strop making a whack with an echo. This was because the heavy leather strop hit first, and the canvas strop hit a fraction of a second later.

Evidently, the strops caused friction as our little tender behinds heated up quickly.

After about the third lick, most of the feeling had disappeared, but it always seemed to pay to put on a loud show with lots of tears. If the act were dramatic enough, Dad usually let up or quit.

There seemed to be a five- or six-day warranty on a good "stropping" as we only received about one a week. Looking back now, I believe it took that long for the feeling to come back and the heat to dissipate. Once the sting was gone, the lesson was usually forgotten.

Evidently the word "abuse" did not appear in Webster's until a later date as teachers and bus drivers also had the right to mete out punishment. In fact, we knew if we received a spanking at school, then we had another awaiting at home. Today's lawyers would have had a field day with the double-jeopardy clause.

Some think the demise of the razor strop began with some guy named Spock. At our home, I think the strop just wore out with overuse.

As I read about the problems in schools and observe the arrogance and disobedience of many of our youngsters in public, the image of the swinging strop and the whack with an echo keep coming to mind.

Today, I'm sure no one in their wildest dreams would consider bringing the razor strop back for disciplinary purposes, but once upon a time, my Dad's swinging arm and the application of a little heat in the lower end sure helped change a couple of little boys' attitudes.

Delbert Trew is a free-lance writer and retired rancher. His column appears weekly.

Corpun file 7654 at


The Times, Trenton, New Jersey, 26 August 2001

Study: Mild spanking not harmful to kids

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Occasional, mild spankings of young children are OK and do not cause any lasting harm that carries into adolescence, according to a study released Friday.

Such discipline does not hurt youngsters' social or emotional development, the researchers reported.

"A lot of people out there advocate that any spanking at all is detrimental, and that's not what we found," said study co-author Elizabeth Owens from the Institute of Human Development at the University of California at Berkeley. "We're not advocating this is a strategy that should be used with kids, but we object to people wanting to ban it when we see no evidence that it's harmful."

The study was being presented at a meeting in San Francisco of the American Psychological Association.

Owens and author Diana Baumrind analyzed data gathered from 100 middle-class white families from 1968 to 1980. The children and parents were interviewed, tested and observed on three occasions by two teams of psychologists when the children were 4, 9 and 14.

The study found the majority of families disciplined their preschool children by using mild to moderate spanking. The results showed no negative effects on cognitive, social or behavioral skills of those youngsters and found no difference between them and the 4 percent of children who were not physically disciplined.

The study found that 4 percent to 7 percent of parents fell into the "red zone" by disciplining their children frequently and impulsively, by such means as verbal punishment, using a paddle, hitting their children in the face or torso or throwing and shaking them.

Those children were found to be not as adjusted socially and more likely to have behavioral problems or experience anxiety or depression, Owens said.

She acknowledged that the children studied were from an earlier generation and the results could be different if the same research were done on today's youngsters.

A study released last August found that avoiding corporal punishment altogether increases the probability of the child being well-behaved and well-adjusted. Murray Straus, co-director of the University of New Hampshire Family Research Laboratory, said spanking could backfire and push a youngster into delinquency.

Others said that they are not sure what the overall effects of corporal punishment are, but that spankings can create mistrust between parents and children and send the wrong message to youngsters.

"I have a hard time imagining it would be a constructive part of the relationship," said Peter Mangione, co-director at the San Francisco-based Center for Child and Family Studies. "The child is learning from you that it's appropriate to use physical power to solve problems."

Owens, herself an expectant mother, said she is not advocating spanking, "and I don't plan to use it, but if there are situations where I think it would be helpful, I wouldn't be averse to using it" in a mild way.

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