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

Chris Marsh chris at webbtech.co.uk
Thu Nov 28 09:42:01 CST 2002

> >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 *available*[2]?
> if and if...
> it's the first "if" that I'm not so sure about.  I personally
> have not seen evidence that punishment is effective in the
> long run in terms of creating good citizens.  Any punishment.
>  What I see is that those who are most punished are often the
> worst behaved.  Chicken or egg?

I can see exactly what you're saying, and why. My stance on corporal
punishment is less that it should be applied in every situation, and
more that there should be no mandate banning it from being legal. If you
slap a child in anger, I agree that the child learns that violence is a
valid means of expressing anger. However, corporal punishment that I
received was always measured, always quantified in advance, and never
applied in anger. Looking back, I found the experience to be a good one,
as I invariably learnt a lesson.

> Kidnap and murder... there's something more at work than your
> regular behavior problems there, I think...

Aha! This is the crux of my argument for corporal punishment. You are
correct that this is not normal behaviour, but it seems highly likely to
me that these two boys had come to the conclusion that they could do
whatever they wanted because there was (in their estimation) nothing
that could be done to them as a result of their actions. Continued
corporal punishment is not an answer either as, if it fails to suggest
values to the child that are accepted and understood, then it has failed
as much as any other method. However, if there was a chance that
application of corporal punishment in a controlled environment *may*
have taught these boys that actions have consequences prior to the
tragedy that subsequently occurred, then it would have been a valid
means of discipline IMHO.

> >There are many issues here. Why would your daughter's
> childminder feel
> >that punishment of any kind is necessary?
> Because she doesn't know how do it any other way.  It's how
> she was raised.  She doesn't understand positive
> reenforcement.  (The offenses in question are IMO very small
> -- breaking crayons, making mistakes while practicing piano)

I would agree with you in this case that corporal punishment is
completely inappropriate to the situation. The *only* time that corporal
punishment would be valid in any case is if a child has *deliberately*
broken the rules. To punish someone for a mistake is never a valid means
of teaching.

> >Is your daughter being naughty?
> She's being a child.

Touche ;)

> >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.
> It is illegal to strike an adult; it should be illegal to
> strike a child.  I call it abuse.

This is a little simplistic, as it is not illegal to strike an adult
without further qualification. One may legitimately strike an adult in
self defence. Likewise no physical contact needs to be made for the
crime of assault to be committed. One may not assault another adult, but
some forms of corporal punishment used on children would not be
considered assault (against an adult) in law. We come back to the line
between legitimate punishment and outright abuse, and I think we
probably agree on the complete lack of justification for any child
abuse. I think we only differ on where the line is drawn between abuse
and legitimate punishment.

> In terms of psychological abuse, which can be worse, it's
> harder to show.

But psychological abuse is not illegal.

> >I have to say that if she genuinly feels that way over a
> little slap,
> >then there is something profoundly wrong with her psyche.
> she inherited it from me.  I was pretty suicidal by my early
> teens. Of course, I was criticized and slapped around a lot
> during childhood.  This led me to think of myself very
> negatively, as a bad person.  I acted-in: self-destructive.
> I know that you and I are probably thinking about different
> things. I was punished while my parents were in fits of rage.
>  There was nothing formalized about it, like you describe.
> So I can't compare, except to say when you open the door to
> violence against a child, some people don't know how to shut it.

I agree with this. I was never punished in anger, so it's impossible for
me to tell what the effect of this would have had on me.

> >  > 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.

[snip stuff I agree with]

> >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 had this discussion with her dad last week who wanted to
> watch "Lethal Weapon II" for a bedtime movie.  She has
> nightmares and lots of fears.  There's this attitude that
> they got to be "tough" in the wild west...

I wouldn't go that far, personally. Just because I want my children to
have emotional strength doesn't mean I want to achieve this through
generation of a protecting layer of emotional scar tissue...

> What I say: childhood is a special time, it is a short time,
> and it should be honored.  Children should not be forced to
> grow up before they are ready; that hurts them and the hurt
> lasts a long time.  This girl still believes in the tooth
> fairy and santa claus... how fast you want me to force
> adulthood on her?

Agreed, although I think we're digressing slightly from the discussion
as to whether corporal punishment is a valid means of discipline.

> So she can start giving blow-jobs at 13 like "normal American girls"?

No. Emphatically no. This is not normal to me regardless of the

> Fuck that.  I should move back to the rez where she's not
> just another disadvantaged minority, where she has a family
> and a context and a culture.
> Sorry Chris, apparently a rant has been festering with me
> under the surface.  I'm just f'ing pissed off today about all
> of this.  Society tells you "just get into the work-force and
> everything will be fine but it's a total lie.

No problem at all. I get those kind of days regularly. I enjoy healthy
debate on subjects such as these for many reasons, not least of which is
that it's interesting to hear others' opinions even if one disagrees;
especially if those views are expressed objectively.

> >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.
> if prisons work so well why do we keep needing more?  if it
> doesn't work do more of the same?

Touche again! I don't believe the prison system works, but neither do I
thnk that "nurturing" criminals would work either ;)

> >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.
> there are courses of action available, several.  I have taken
> a few courses of action myself.

*Sigh* me too, but somehow one has to be so careful not to end up in the
wrong, no matter how morally right one is.

> And it looks like I need to do more of it..
> respectfully,

Right back atcha!


Chris Marsh

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