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Entries in social norms (1)


Spanking Kids and Bombing Countries (Or the lack thereof)

An interesting article posted by my friend Fatima on Facebook:

"Spanking Kids Can Cause Long Term Harm: Canada Study"

TORONTO (Reuters) - Spanking children can cause long-term developmental damage and may even lower a child's IQ, according to a new Canadian analysis that seeks to shift the ethical debate over corporal punishment into the medical sphere.

The study, published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reached its conclusion after examining 20 years of published research on the issue. The authors say the medical finding have been largely overlooked and overshadowed by concerns that parents should have the right to determine how their children are disciplined.

The initial reaction to this post on my part was, well, duh because it's a conscious parenting choice on my part not to spank.  I feel a strong need, because I realize this is a sensitive topic, to strongly emphasize that my choice doesn't make me a better parent. Simply put, though, I believe that emphasizing that you're stronger or taller or older than someone is not the best tool to teach them what's right or wrong. One day, we will not be stronger and bigger and taller. Principled living results from a person intellectually accepting something because they believe it to be right.  There's a line in the Quran (this is probably going to surprise our friends who believe in a vast conspiracy to force Islam on everyone) : "There is no compulsion in religion." Put another way, you can't *make* someone believe something is right.

I don't think you can force someone to believe something, and I believe that physical punishments are an act of force.

I hear this a lot: some kids need to be spanked. I disagree.  I just disagree. A child is a person.  A total and complete person that just knows a little less about the world than I do. To drill down to the simplest explanation: I don't spank children because I don't spank adults. Shut up. Perverts.

I also don't spank because I remember what it felt like to be spanked, both in an educational environment and at home. It was ineffective, shaming and made me resentful of the people who used those methods to assert authority over me. To this day, the adult in my life who has the most impact on me is the one who never laid a hand on me: my mother. All my mother had to do was tell me she was disappointed in me and I would straighten up.  I cannot recall a single second of my life where I did not respect my mother.  Not even when I was extremely young.  And I'll tell you this, kids aren't born respecting their parents, their parents earn that respect.  My mother earned her respect from me somehow without every laying a hand on me.

(Okay, there was this one time that she slapped me when I was sixteen, but I totally deserved that.  And, also, she apologized for losing her temper. It's just that she thought I was lying dead in a ditch because she didn't know where I was for eight hours and I was supposed to be at school).

People who disagree about this seldom change their minds or find compromises they can agree on as evidenced by a discussion I had on the show CYR (episode 20) a few years ago.

All of that up there was my initial reaction to the Canadian study. My second reaction was far more philosophically based than controversially based, and I'm hoping you latch on to this part instead of the first. How can we as a society, dare I say, species consider eliminating the use of physical discipline when it permeates the highest levels of our society? I feel like that's pretty hypocritical.

Spanking your kids is supposedly bad according to this latest research, but dropping bombs on country because you suspect that they have nuclear capabilities is okay? See, if we accept that spanking kids is definitely, absolutely not okay... well, we'd have to reassess paradigms that allow us to push the boundaries of what we believe are appropriate responses to international situations where we feel a particular nation or people need to be "taught a lesson" for a perceived or real threat.

You know what I mean?

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