[thechat] The youth today... [WAS: santa question - quickie]

Chris Marsh chris at webbtech.co.uk
Tue Nov 26 14:08:00 CST 2002

> >The delinquent youth I was thinking of was that of the UK.
> There seems
> >to be no method of punishment for minors in Britain, which really
> >leaves it up to the individual to monitor their own actions.
> I think individuals can monitor their own actions if they are
> nurtured properly.  I think the problem many have is that it

That contention is something that it would be pointless to debate given
the qualification. I have no doubt at all that *some* children would
potentailly never require corporal punishment given the right care for
them. I also have no doubt at all that *some* children require corporal
punishment regardless of the environment for their primary

> is difficult to provide a good nurturing environment in an
> atmosphere of poverty and stress.  Plus, children learn by example.

Exactly! And if the parents or "primary caregivers"[0] give a bad
example or simply ignore the child, how can society a) teach the child
how to behave and perhaps more importantly b) protect itself from the
actions of this child? Allow me to illustrate. I don't know if you are
aware of the case of one Jamie Bulger, but he was an innocent young
child[1] who was abducted and tortured to death. Who by? A couple of
other children. If there was a chance that this tragedy would never have
occurred had the two attackers been properly disciplined, and if one of
the methods of discipline available to the parents, schools and
authorities had been corporal in nature, can you really say that it
would not have been a good thing that this method of discipline was

> Recently my daughter's afternoon caregiver, (a relative),
> began to inflict corporal punishment against my wishes.
> There was an instant and marked change in my daughter's
> demeanor as soon as it happened... suddenly I'm hearing "I
> hate my life and I want to die" -- from a 7 year old.  And

There are many issues here. Why would your daughter's childminder feel
that punishment of any kind is necessary? Is your daughter being
naughty? If so, then perhaps your method of discipline is insufficient
to prevent this. If not, then the childminder is simply abusing the
child, and the issue is one of child abuse, not methods of punishment.
Another issue is the comments regarding death. Where does she get this
from? Peers? Television? School? A typical 7 year old would not have a
well-rounded enough grasp of life and death to come out with syntax like
this unless there was some external influence. I have to say that if she
genuinly feels that way over a little slap, then there is something
profoundly wrong with her psyche. Otherwise, she is making a point as
powerfully as she can by making these comments; which in fact is a good
lesson well learned.

> the usual "mommy mommy I wish you could be a teacher at my
> school, I wish you had a different job so you could spend
> time with me, etc."  Her anger is apparent and increasing.
> Corporal punishment will not help with these problems.

This is slightly unclear to me. I think that these problems are being
directly caused by corporal punishment, as you imply earlier. If this is
the case, then I would agree that the way forward is *certainly* not to
continue meting out corporal punishment in the hopes that she will "get
the hint". However, maybe she should learn that corporal punishment
exists (as a last resort). The way to avoid it is by being good. "Being
good" is based on logic, which can be taught. Learn this and ignore it,
you are being bad. If you are bad you will be punished. Continue being
bad, the punishment will increase. Ignore the punishment or circumvent
it, the punishment will hurt. It's a cold hard world out there, and I
believe we do no favours to our children by coddling them and cossetting
them against the pain of existence.

> I think childern differ in temperment and coroporal
> punishment can really have a negative effect on a sensitive
> child who is just being a child.

Yes, but corporal punishemnt is not meted out per *child*, it's meted
out per *crime*. Why is it any different if it's an introvert or an
extrovert that kicks a peer's head against a kerb?

> Whether "most minors are delinquent by nature" would seem to
> depend on your definition of delinquency.  Minors are

There's not much flexibility in the definition of delinquency. It's
basically the non-adherence to laws or rules. Show me a child who breaks
no rules, and I'll show you a child that is in no need of punishment.
Psychologically there is more chance of this child being a psychopath
born out of parental mixed signals; but I digress. If the child breaks
rules, then the child is delinquent.

> unsocialized but socialization can and does happen in other
> ways than via punishment. Many children sincerely want to do
> the right thing, even if they don't yet have the ability to
> manage behavior as adults do.

Well yes, but most adults sicerely think that they want to do the right
thing. It doesn't mean that we don't need prisons.

> Again, throw it all out the door when you have parents/family
> who are too stressed and or unable to give the child the time
> and attention he/she needs.  That kid is going to have
> problems regardless.  They may act out (delinquency) or act
> in (self-destructive activities) or both.

Absolutely, but why should society suffer? Re-habilitation, education,
decent socialisation -- all necessary. But so is punishment.

> Personally, I think that this (lack of time, attention,
> respect given to needs of children and elders) is the real
> problem.  I see it in rural areas where kids that join gangs
> are kids that lack family connection.

My heart bleeds for them, but I tend to lose my sympathy pretty rapidly
when their behaviour starts to affect the lives of me and my family and
there is not a single course of action open to me, legal or otherwise.


Chris Marsh

[0] Or whatever PC nonsense is used to describe a child's guardian these
[1] I didn't bother looking up the details as they are irrelevant to the
point at hand.
[2] Available; not necessarily used

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