Disciplining children remains controversial subject

Published 6:58 pm Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book, Baby and Child Care was published in 1946. It became the widely-accepted bible on child rearing, and much of the advice Dr. Spock offered ran against the grain of what had previously been the accepted standard for bringing up children, such as discipline.

 Spock encouraged parents to treat their children with respect rather than to arm themselves with leather belts to use at the first sign of disobedience. This led some critics to call him the “Father of Permissiveness” even though he advocated disciplining one’s children, just not beating them, which is lost in the translation related to his book and advocacy concerning child-rearing. 

What happens in the formative stages of children, that in some instances, result in their becoming a monster or terror in society later in their lives? Without fail, culprits who commit such atrocities, appear to always blame their crimes or infamous antics on their alleged horrible family upbringing. 

Some attribute their committing heinous acts to never being told by a parent that they were loved. In most cases, however, they blame being regularly beaten by a parent — most of the time the father — as being the causal factor contributing to their acts. 

As a child, virtually every one of my friends who misbehaved, or brought shame on their family, would expect to be beaten by a parent with a strap, belt, switch or whatever they could lay their hands on at the time. Not one of them became a serial or mass killer. As serious as the discipline was, I do not have any friends, to date, who killed their parents.  

As most of my friend are aware, several years ago, I was invited to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss the subject of corporal punishment. My opinion conflicted with that of Dr. Spock. My appearance on Ms. Winfrey’s show was a debate between me and a nationally renowned psychologist, who believed that spanking children resulted in their growing up with low self-esteem and the potential for committing violence in the future. The audience sided with me. 

In that same year, an infamous bill (Assembly Bill No. 150, section 726.5), concerning the government paddling juvenile offenders almost became law in California. 

The bill specifically stated that a minor adjudged a ward of the court for an act of graffiti, shall be paddled by a parent of the minor. However, if the parent declines to administer the paddling, or if the court determines that the parent has not administered a satisfactory paddling, a bailiff shall administer the paddling.  Major media from the United States and other countries were following the story.

The bill did not become law. As an expert witness, my testimony contributed greatly to its defeat (Corpun.com/usju9408.htm). I believe in parents having the right to discipline their children, not the government.