Spare the Rod, Save the Child

So . . . let me get this straight . . . there are parents out there . . . and evidently not just parents but kids too . . . who are demanding that corporal punishment remain in Texas schools? Of course, there are also folks on the other side of the coin who are demanding that “spare the rod, spoil the child” go the way of the dodo . . . and I am very much on that side of the boat.

I know, there are folks who believe that children need to be taught discipline and respect and all sorts of good stuff . . . but . . . these things can be taught without fear and pain and suffering.

Sorry, dumbasses folks but if the only way you can get kids to behave or to manage a classroom or to keep your child from doing wrong or to engender respect for your authority is to grab a stick and whack away at their asses behinds then you aren’t really bright enough to be deserving of much respect in the first place. Go pick up some of Karen Pryor’s books and realize that positive feedback works with humans too.

Growing up, I was beaten . . . the real deal . . . and for a very long time I lived in constant fear of unwarranted pain inflicted by my stepfather who I now realize was a bit more on the sadistic psychopathic side of the scale than is healthy (up until a few years ago, I still had random nightmares every once in awhile about this or that beating so the baggage is still there). Sometimes the beatings were for genuine misdeeds but most of the time they were just for plain ol’ because he very likely derived a whole lot of sick pleasure out of it. As a youngster, I swore that I would not grow up to be like him . . . an oath so many people make at some point in their childhoods in a fit of frustration at some imagined insult inflicted upon them by what later turns out to be caring parents looking out for their interests in spite of themselves . . . we so often swear not to be like our parents and then slowly become them . . . but . . . in my case I meant it at the core of my being. I swore that when I had kids I would never beat my child and that’s exactly what I have done . . . never beaten my child. Full disclosure, I did swat her butt once when she was four . . . we were coming out of Sogo Department Store in Taipei on a dark rainy evening and I told her to stand on the sidewalk while I put packages in the trunk of the taxi and she ran out into the street at which time I grabbed her and lightly swatted her on the behind and said “No! Daddy told you to stay on the sidewalk!” the shock of which was intended as a pattern interrupt as I quickly finished the loading of packages and people . . . Kaye refused to sit beside me in the cab ride home and remembered that moment for years to come . . . but it was a very unusual circumstance and an open hand and soft, no paddles or belts or sticks or switches or ropes or chains or any of that and I did immediately explain to her what was happening and that it was only done to stop her at that moment when there was obviously danger around (a year later, we saw two different pedestrians on opposite corners of the very same intersection hit by two different cars within fifteen minutes of one another and those were adults, let alone children barely out of their toddler years so the danger of urban traffic was very much a real thing . . . anyone who’s been to Taipei knows exactly how hairy traffic can be).

Lorraine and I see very much eye to eye on corporal punishment . . . it is wrong. Period. Why anyone would think that they should teach their kids to be good people through pain and torture and punishment is beyond me. Sure, it can be trying at times not having the easy out of a quick slap or spank or whatever it is people seem to be doing with the physical attack upon their children’s bodies . . . but . . . there are always options.

Sure, Kaye has missed out on some aspects of growing up that I had as a child or some of her classmates have had . . . she doesn’t have the bruises or the nightmares . . . but, we’re willing to sacrifice those aspects in favor of an approach we prefer . . . I know, it’s weird to treat your child as a human being deserving of respect and care and loving attention, but I guess we’re weird that way.

If you want your kids to be good people . . . then fucking be good people! Give them good examples. You don’t teach kids not to be violent by being violent.

In Taiwan, there are a lot of folks who still prefer corporal punishment . . . even though it is technically illegal, some parents want it as they believe it will motivate their kids to be good. We made damned sure that our daughter never attended any sort of school like that . . . never.

Years ago, a group of students in one of my English Communication courses at the university where I teach did a research presentation on corporal punishment and they found that the vast majority of the research shows categorically that corporal punishment has no positive value and that it is likely to lead to much worse behavior later than that which has brought about the punishment . . . I say vast majority here but actually these students couldn’t find any research in favor of the use of corporal punishment at home or in the schools . . . nada. Their presentation went over it all and showed without a doubt that corporal punishment is a dead end unless your goal is to create violent fearful screwed up people. So, what was the conclusion of this group of students attending one of the top universities in Asia? That corporal punishment may not be good for US students (where most of the research they found had taken place) bu that Taiwanese students needed it. Like the idjits folks in the US who are pushing for corporal punishment’s return to schools, they ignored the data and stuck with the ol’ “That’s how it was done when I was a student so that’s what we should keep doing to our own kids” or the “if I had to suffer, so should you.” Of course, this was years ago and today student conclusions tend to be much more critically informed and follow the research a bit more closely.

Guess what . . . that’s a load . . . sure, I suffered but I sure as hell don’t want to inflict that same suffering upon the next generation. We can create a wonderful new generation of caring, loving, giving humans . . . we foster their growth by not stepping away from the mistakes of those who went before us and by nurturing them . . . if we can foster citizenship and excellence through positive discipline instead of punishment strategies then we should damned well be doing it. Heck, even if positive discipline is a load of BS and works no better than punishment systems it’s still a whole lot better to treat our children like fellow humans than like animals or criminals, isn’t it?

Hint . . . if a vice-principle administering a few swats is leaving bruises on a child’s ass that are so bad that he can’t actually sit for days and is admitted to the hospital then there’s something fucking wrong.

It is illegal in the United States to use corporal punishment in juvenile detention centers or prisons . . . corporal punishment constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment . . . and yet it continues in public schools in a number of states (hint, the United States Supreme Court found in 1977 that the eight amendment of the US Constitution only protects prisoners from cruel and unusual punishment and does not apply to school children . . . how’s that for bizarre and a half!).

For current and previous dialog on this issue, see and,8599,1915820,00.html and a whole lot of videos on the subject at (warning, many of the videos are unsettling, to say the least). Actually, the has a ton of info and photos and more on the subject worth the perusal of anyone with even a passing interest in this important subject.

All the best,