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RULER   :   Archive   :   1999   :   US Domestic Apr 1999


Domestic CP - April 1999

Corpun file 3520

The Denver Post, Colorado, 10 April 1999

Enyart handed jail term in stepson's beating

By Kieran Nicholson
Denver Post Staff Writer

Denver Christian radio talk-show host Bob Enyart was handcuffed in a Jefferson County courtroom Friday and led to jail to begin serving a 60-day sentence for beating his stepson with a belt.

Enyart was convicted in 1995 of misdemeanor child abuse resulting in injury for inflicting bruises, welts and broken skin on the buttocks of his stepson, Stephen, who was 7 at the time. The misdemeanor case took two trials in Jefferson County and almost five years to play out.

"It's been a very long process, it's been very hard on Stephen," said John Mayns, the boy's father and custodial parent. Through the lengthy process, Enyart claimed that he did nothing wrong, saying in 1997 that "taking a boy to the woodshed" was once "politically correct." Enyart did not address the court Friday. But Mayns said the discipline was more than a mere spanking.

"He did not spank him, he beat him," Mayns said. The beating with a belt, for which Enyart was sentenced to jail, happened in the boy's mother's Arvada home. Enyart disciplined Stephen, at the behest of the boy's mother, Cheryl, for refusing to take a shower. The couple was dating at the time, but was not yet married. He was also accused of beating his stepson another time on a camping trip in El Paso County but was later acquitted.

Cheryl Enyart declined comment as she left the courthouse Friday. Mayns said his son is now just starting to recover from the incident. Stephen and his older brother, Anthony, 17, both see their mother but Enyart has been ordered by the court to stay away from the boys. Enyart, wearing a black T-shirt that said "Judge Rightly is not some guy's name," was at ease in the courtroom prior to starting his jail term. He held his toddler daughter in his lap. Enyart was fined $1,498, which he must pay within 30 days of finishing the jail term. He is on one-year probation and must also complete a parenting class and a mental health evaluation as part of the sentence.

Copyright 1999 The Denver Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Corpun file 3560


St Paul Pioneer Press, Minnesota, 21 April 1999

There's no proof spanking is hurtful

By John Rosemond
Knight Ridder News Service

Q. In a recent column, you basically said spanking is OK. Shame on you! Spanking is never OK because it teaches children that hitting is OK. Every spanking is a form of emotional, if not physical, abuse that the child will some day pass along to someone else. The world would be more peaceful if there was a law banning spanking.
A. Here's my theory: Somewhere along the line, you heard a so-called parenting "expert" say spanking teaches children that hitting is OK. If you didn't believe this before (perhaps you'd never thought about spanking in these terms), you became a believer, not only because someone you implicitly trust said it, but also because it struck you as sensible.

Furthermore, the subject of spanking evokes a strong emotional response in you. You don't just believe spanking causes children to hit, you believe it passionately -- so passionately you'd be willing to let the government decide what constitutes appropriate discipline.

If my theory is on target, I don't think I can convince you that you're wrong. But I'll give it the old college try.

Fact: There is no good, scientifically grounded evidence that would suggest spankings per se incline children toward violent behavior. Researchers who claim to have established that connection (i.e., professor Murray Straus, author of "Beating the Devil Out of Them") have violated almost every rule of scientific evidence-gathering to advance what is clearly a personal bias.

The two co-chairs of a 1996 American Academy of Pediatrics committee on corporal punishment reported "... spanking in and of itself is not detrimental to a child or predictive of later problems."

Fact: No anecdotal evidence exists to support the idea that spankings cause children to think hitting is OK. Most of the members of my generation were spanked as children, but we baby boomers are not, as a rule, prone to hitting others when we're upset.

Fact: Over the past 30 years, the percentage of American parents who spank has decreased. During that same period, however, violent behavior by teen-agers (irrespective of socioeconomic status) has increased, and rather dramatically. Obviously, it is simplistic to think America would be a more peaceful place if parents didn't spank.

Fact: In 1973, psychologist Diana Baumrind published the results of her landmark 20-year study on parents' disciplinary styles. One of Baumrind's findings was that parents who spank, moderately and occasionally, are much less likely to explode in rage toward their children than parents who reject spanking as a disciplinary option.

Any conclusion concerning this particular finding would be simplistic, but it certainly suggests that parental self-control is actually enhanced when the parent gives him/herself permission to spank.

Fact: Sweden outlawed parental spanking in 1979. Follow-up studies have shown no decline in the physical abuse of children. In fact, consistent with Baumrind's aforementioned finding, a 1995 study by the Swedish government found a fourfold increase in serious parental abuse of children since the law was enacted.

I am convinced that when a child who is secure in his parents' love is spanked by those parents, he does not consider himself the victim of a violent act.

To such a child, a spanking is a spanking, and hitting is a horse of a different color. I feel deeply for children whose parents spank indiscriminately and violently, but tossing the baby out with the bathwater (with an across-the-board ban on spanking) is not the way to solve such a societal problem.

John Rosemond is a family psychologist in North Carolina.

© 1999 PioneerPlanet / St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press - All Rights Reserved

Corpun file 3603


The Boston Globe, Massachusetts, 29 April 1999

Is spanking abuse? SJC to take up case

By John Ellement, Globe Staff

In the heart and mind of Woburn pastor Donald R. Cobble Jr., he has a God-given and biblically sanctioned right to punish his young son by spanking him with a leather belt.

But the state agency charged with protecting children disagrees, likening Cobble's tough-love discipline to child abuse.

Now, the state's highest court will step in as arbiter, weighing the rights of parents to raise their children as their religious beliefs dictate against the right of the state to step in when strictness crosses over to abuse.

The state Supreme Judicial Court has short-circuited the appellate process, bypassing the state Appeals Court to take Cobble's appeal for itself, which often happens in cases that raise significant legal and policy issues. It will hear the case in the fall.

At issue is Cobble's belief that corporal punishment is an act of love sanctioned by the Bible, a belief not shared by the Superior Court judge who agreed with the state Department of Social Services last year that Cobble's method of discipline could veer into child abuse.

Yesterday, Cobble's attorney, Chester Darling, said Cobble believes that the DSS has tampered with his right to raise his child as he sees fit and violated his constitutional right to practice religion without interference from government.

"Who the hell are they to tell parents how to discipline their children?" Darling asked. "It's sad that we have these social workers coming into a home and telling people how they should raise their kids and objecting to the religious features of that family's expression.

"The essence of this case is that a lack of discipline is a form of child abuse," said Darling, who successfully sued on behalf of a veterans group to keep a contingent of gay marchers out of the St. Patrick's Day parade in South Boston.

He has also organized a nonprofit group to argue conservative causes in court and on Beacon Hill.

"Take a look at Colorado and see what happens if there are no rules and they aren't enforced by the parent," Darling added.

But Jeffrey A. Locke, acting commissioner of the DSS, said the Cobble case should be viewed as the one that might finally, clearly delineate the line between abuse and physical punishment - not as an intrusion into the privacy of child-rearing or deeply held religious beliefs.

Locke noted that the SJC, in a case decided in the 1980s, ruled that a parent's religious beliefs must give way when a child's physical well-being is threatened.

In that case, the SJC upheld the manslaughter conviction of Christian Scientists whose son died when they did not get traditional medical treatment for the child.

Cobble is an associate pastor at the Christian Teaching and Worship Center in Woburn. In 1997, he and his ex-wife, Lisa, clashed with the DSS.

At the time, their son Judah was attending a special needs program in Peabody because he has attention deficit disorder. As part of the school's education plan for Judah, a teacher sends a report detailing the child's behavior to his parents every night. The teacher asked for strong support from parents to help quell negative behaviors in the classroom, Darling said.

Cobble's approach was to read to Judah from the Bible while spanking him on the buttocks with the soft end of a belt. Judah was always clothed and was punished only this way when he disrupted the class or had physical contact with classmates or teachers, Darling said. He was not disciplined for difficulties in academic performance.

Judah told a teacher he feared his father and the spankings, triggering a DSS investigation. A social worker concluded that Cobble had abused Judah in the past and could do so in the future.

Further appeals inside DSS reached the same conclusion, as did Suffolk Superior Court Judge John Cratsley.

"Given the continued nature of the spanking, the vulnerability of the child, and the Cobbles' admission of both spanking and believing in spanking as a form of discipline, there is a real risk that this practice will lead to serious injury," Cratsley ruled in December.

DSS did not remove the child from the home, and Cobble was never charged with child abuse.

The agency is no longer involved with the Cobble family. Judah reported getting red marks on his buttocks from the spankings, but two doctors who regularly treated him told DSS they had never seen signs of abuse.

blob Previous: 6 December 1998 - Judge says pastor may not spank his son

blob Follow-up: 11 September 1999 - Mass. High court to hear spanking case

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