The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
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    Making Excuses For Spanking: Adding Insult To Injury

    Every few months--sometimes less--a story about child abuse hits the airwaves and everyone takes it to the top and talks about it.  Everyone agrees that child abuse is bad.  How could they not?  Child abuse IS bad.  This time it's an NFL player who admitted to switching his four-year-old until the welts rose and the blood flowed.  His excuse was that it was a spanking and it's how he knows to discipline his kids because it was how he was disciplined.  Until he agreed to therapy he saw it as no big deal.  He honestly seemed not to get it that raising welts on a child and drawing blood was not the way to parent.

    While all this was going on, NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter took to the cameras on ESPN and talked emotionally about our entrenched but wrong-headed views on discipline.  (Thank you, Mr. Carter. You have my eternal respect and gratitude) :

    "This goes across all racial lines, ethnicities, religious backgrounds. People in disciplining their children. People with any sort of Christian background, they really believe in disciplining their children," Carter began. "My mom did the best job she could do raising seven kids by herself. But there are thousands of things that I have learned since then that my mom was wrong. This is the 21st century. My mom was wrong. She did the best she could, but she was wrong about some of that stuff she taught me. And I promised my kids that I won't teach that mess to them. You can't beat a kid to make him do what you want to do."

    Let's be honest:  spanking is just a fancy word for hitting.  The word is kind of cute. Spanking.  It's used to make the actions of the hitter seem more benign, but hitting is hitting and when there is hitting, someone is going to get hurt.  That's the objective.  Behavior modification by inflicting pain. 

    Spanking is what parents and caretakers do to kids when they've lost their tempers and the only road to relief is to hit somebody.  Sometimes it's instant and spontaneous, but sometimes--this makes me shudder--it comes after a delay; a cooling-off period when the adult about to do the hitting would have time to think about it and just not do it.  Then it isn't a matter of losing control, it's a matter of gaining control by hurting someone.

    Kids get spanked or switched or whacked or smacked all the time.  We brag about it, joke about it, and make excuses for it:  It's part of our history, our culture, our destiny.  A good spanking never hurt anybody.  Or so we would like to believe.

    I have smacked a padded butt or two, pulled on a little arm, and forcibly, not gently, removed a child from a situation that was dangerous or had gotten out of hand.  We parents are not perfect; nor, you might have noticed, are our children.  Obedience is not something that comes naturally to them.

    Every new parent wants to believe from the get-go that they've got this--all it takes is smarts and patience and a loving heart.   Every new parent learns quickly that whatever assets they thought they were bringing to this whole parenting thing are just so much oatmeal when it comes to applying them to real, live kids with minds of their own.

    So because we all know that kids don't always cooperate when it comes to guidance and discipline, and because nobody seems to know which method, if any, will work, we tend to want to stay out of other peoples' parenting efforts.

    It's far easier to believe that spanking is okay while hitting isn't and not recognize that the two are one and the same.  Whatever you want to call it, kids are being hit by adults.  Some of them are beaten, bruised and bloodied to the point where even seasoned spankers are horrified. But that's the problem:  There is no clear definition for spanking.  We can use the word without really knowing what we're talking about.

    The term "child abuse" is out in the open now.  That wasn't true even 30 years ago, when the first child abuse hotlines began to appear.  We're better informed and we know abuse when we see it, but we're still not willing to include spanking in the "abuse" category.   It needs to be there.  We can't control the methods or degrees of spanking.  There is no effective way to monitor spanking to make sure it doesn't go too far.  The way to control it is to make sure it doesn't happen.

    Every adult who spanks is not a child abuser, but every adult who spanks has to recognize that spanking is intended to hurt, and hurting a child, any child, is something a healthy society needs to address.  We can't talk out of both sides of our mouths.  Either we believe children need to be protected from deliberate hurt or we don't.

    (For further reading, an earlier post:  "A Simple Plea:  Do Not Lay Hands Upon Our Children".)

    The National Child Abuse Hotline number is:
    1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)


    Oh I have deep thoughts about all of this.

    I came home one day after work and right in front of me, as Erin was greeting me

    My son who is 4? at the time,  hit my daughter over the head with a steel or metal toy truck.

    Mama came to care for Erin whilst I took Sean into his room and spanked him. Now I did not use a stick or anything but my hand and surely never took his pants off, but I spanked him.

    I never struck him again, and of course I never struck my daughter.

    I 'grounded' the little bugger into his room for awhile.

    This type of violence never happened again.

    I did the spanking out of fear, really.

    My son is my best friend. He has no scars as a result of my behavior.

    Could I have accomplished the same result by yelling, which was my forte? Hahahah

    Obviously my children were ascared of my yelling.


    I feel guilty. I mean I could have just put the little bugger in his room and 'grounded' him.

    I was mad.

    And we cannot rule or guide or discipline our children in anger.

    You do not hit your wife or sister or mother....

    I grew up with these mandates.

    Sorry, I am going on and on which is my forte.

    I have sinned.

    But there are degrees of sin.

    And my Vikings just look at the best damned player they have on the team and wish to minimize.

    Such is the corporate philosophy.

    That is all I got.







    My husband and I talked about this today.  He is my First Reader and he agreed with what I wrote, but reminded me that he had in fact been made to go out and get his own switch.  His father had struck him with belts.  In my long, long life I have never been struck, and when I first heard about his "abuse", I was appalled.  it colored how I felt about my in-laws for a while, but they were really wonderful people and I grew to love them both.

    I kept digging at my husband today, trying to get him to admit that it bothered him at the time.  He claims it didn't really hurt and it didn't make him hate his parents--not even for a minute.  He said their lives were hard and he probably deserved it.  So much for that!

    But I stand by my own thoughts about spanking/hitting.  We all make some doozy mistakes as parents.  One spanking is not a venal sin!  You're a good man, Richard.  You can stop beating yourself up over it.  Ha!


    A venial sin. hahhahahhhaah

    Well, again, my son has never hit a woman in his life and he certainly never attacked his sister like this ever again.

    Although I have written another squib years ago? about my daughter and he coming to an agreement.

    I cannot find it right now.

    I did get 'the belt' on one occasion but I was the wonder kid in my family.

    We were throwing plastic bowling balls at each other. hahahahaha

    I dunno, I never threw another bowling ball at my brothers. hahahaha

    See, some of these incidents are without consequence as it were.

    At any rate, my son forgave me a long time ago.

    But individually, we all must take responsibility, and this spanking really held me back from being a monster.

    In the end, my son loves his sister, my son depends upon his sister and his sister loves him.

    And decades have gone by, and all is good without any more metal trucks.


    I do not mean that your blog is meaningless.


    And I agree as always, parents have a responsibility to work with their children without bodily punishmment.

    I will most probably do a blog on the issue of WMD's. The parents are killing their kids, the kids are killing the kids and the kids end up killing their parents.

    And so far...

    There is no tragedy facing me at this time...

    Again, this is an important post. And I never intended to take away from it.


    Not at all.  Didn't mean to suggest anything of the sort, if I did.  I appreciate everything you said here.  Kids do have the capacity to forgive and forget, but that doesn't give the adults permission to hurt them to teach them a lesson.  Wrong, wrong, wrong!


    Sean Hannity thinks that abolishing corporal punishment will limit parents' ability to tell children that homosexuality is wrong. Parents will be unable to prevent access to birth control or abortions. Hannity notes that was spanked and turned out "okay" ( insert snark here). While Hannity thought that Adrian Peterson may have gone too far, his female guest felt Peterson was merely exercising parental rights.

    This episode reminds that religious beliefs are often used as a rationale for corporal punishment. We are familiar with the Old Testament admonition "Spare the rod, Spoil the child" Proverbs 13:24 actually states that a parent who does not punish their child hates their child. There is also the punishment of stoning for a disobedient, gluttonous, and drunkard son in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 21:18.  The message in the New Testament differs. The Parable of the Prodigal Son tells of a father with a rebellious, gluttonous,drunken son who leaves home and wastes his fortune. The son returns home penniless. Instead of beating or stoning the wayward child, the father greets him with a feast, pleased that he has returned, hopefully wiser. Jesus never used corporal punishment to get a message across to his disciples. Christian parents should followed his example.

    Focus on the Family, a Conservative Christian group, has created a Seven Step process for a Biblical approach to spanking. The New Testament  notes that being a disciplinarian does not mean that physical force has to be used. Churches need to take an active role in keeping children safe from abuse. Both Peterson and Hannity were using beliefs in their interpretation of the Bible.

    Edit to add: 

    Spanking is accepted as proper by a majority of Americans although acceptance rates are decreasing.

    Born Again Christians, Southerners, and Republicans are among those with the highest rate of spanking acceptance

    Sadly, the diminished IQ resulting from spanking (so evident on Fox) is inflicted upon the rest of us at the polls.  And, yes, I blame the Yahwists.


    Edit to add: the astonishing take away from the survey:  in NO cohort does spanking fail to draw at least 50%+1 support!  Holy shit! (holy, indeed).

    Overall, the US public supports spanking 2:1. 70% of the public supports spanking. 80% of Born Again Christians support spanking. Non Born Again Christians have a 65% support for spanking! better than the general public (actually in line with the general public given the range of error in the polling).

    corrected below for shocking innumeracy or serious failure to note that 2009 was not two, but five years ago...(time does fly, does it not?)m

    Of interest:  The 24 "abolitionist" countries that I listed in 2009 has grown in the intervening five years into 38 nations where you cannot lay hands on your kid, anymore than you can upon your neighbor.

    Repeat post

    It is really impossible to overstate the entertainment value of hearing Hannity declare his unimpaired mental health.

    One is moved to ask "has he polled his friends and family for their opinions?"

    “Between 1960 and 2010, juvenile court delinquency caseloads

    increased nearly 240%”

    “Between 1985 and 2010, delinquency caseloads involving drug

    offenses more than doubled, while person offenses increased 87%,

    and public order increased 80%; in contrast, the property offense

    caseload decreased 29%”

    The State will discipline the children of parents who can not control a wayward disobedient child,

    Better a spanking with temporary pain in contrast to what the States can administer as punishments.

    How many of these delinquencies were committed by children of parents; who didn’t raise their children in the ways of Gods standards of conduct.

    Christian parents listen to their Creator, as do Christian raised children also listen to their parents, who are in Union with the Lord . 

    Proverbs 13:24

    Proverbs 19:18

    Proverbs 22:15

    Proverbs 23:13-14

    Proverbs 29:15

    Proverbs 29:19

    Hebrews 12:5-11

    Consider also teens who don't listen to parents and contract sexually transmitted diseases.

    Try to talk to a young teen, you grounding them to keep them indoors and yet despite all the talk they sneak out.  Talk doesn't always work,

    What should a parent do, sit back and watch their children die? 

    Nothing that you posted gives any data that says spanking prevents crime . It's just a mass of words. A guess. There is actual dTa that spanking may increase crime and not spanking may decrease crime. It' not definitive but it is more fact based that your guess

    As you have admitted  It' not definitive. 

    I prefer to listen to the Wisdom of the Creator of mankind, the designer of procreation and the family structure, for counsel.

    When HIS wise counsel is properly applied, all of societies members reaps the benefits.

    Children learn respect and obedience for the laws that govern.. Beginning with the laws of the household, which helps the child learn boundaries, and respect for others outside the home and these lessons carry on into adulthood. 

    Show me a disrespectful youth, lacking moral values and I'll show you a child without proper discipline.  

    There are many factors that lead to juvenile delinquency, but it doesn't hurt that children learn obedience and respect for the laws governing them ,

    Reward for doing good, Punishment for doing bad, Isn't that what society (even a godless one) teaches and expects all it's people to learn; including the youth and elderly? 

    Most children do have a have a choice.

    Personal responsibility is taught. 

    Like I said, blame the Yahwists.  Above find the people's exhibit one.

    As I say, blame those who have have no respect for authority, for most of mans woes.

    What should a parent do,

    Well the Bible instructions you've posted say you should:

    • use the rod of discipline
    • strike
    • strike with a rod
    • flog
    • beat the backs of fools

    but I don't see any instruction to spank.

    The question  that comes to my mind is why you think a spanking would stop teens from having intercourse. I believe stoning is commonly suggested in the Old Testament as having the sufficient deterrent effect for those over the age of reason, no?

    You've left off the bit about stoning.

    I would hope spanking would impress upon the youths mind the seriousness of the matter and what could result if they didn't  change and control their behavior.

    I liken the family unit to belonging to a nomadic tribe, whose members are expected to be responsible for themselves.  Unwanted pregnancies is not the tribes responsibility. The  tribe knows promiscuous activities can lead to burdens being placed upon others. 

    Early intervention, at the first sign of a youthful indiscretions can prevent grief later. 

    Better a spanking than a stoning? 

    So you support stoning if spanking doesn't work?

    The Proverbs passage you note probably represents the parenting style of King Solomon. If Solomon is the example of the disciplinarian parent, his son is a bad example of the results. Rehoboam became a punishing and much hated King who had to flee to avoid assassination. Perhaps this is a warning not to use the rod.

    In the New Testament, there is a message about discipline, but nothing that specifically says that the rod was used.

    Hebrews 12:6-7

    Edit to add:

    When you say better a spanking than a stoning, you appear to accept stoning as Christian doctrine. Stoning is not Christian doctrine. Jesus stopped the stoning of an adulteress.Can you point to Jesus or his disciples stoning anyone?

    Today most parents don't spank.  They have more effective ways of punishing a child.  You just take the electronics from them, like cell phones, games systems and computer.  It works well for me.  

    I really don't have to punish the kids very often.  I also try not to embarrass them in front of friends or make them feel everything is their fault. I talk to them in private.  You can over do it with verbal abuse too when you are angry. 

    My mother would always put a price tag on every lost item or worn out item when I was growing up, that I should be grateful that she was willing to spend the extra money on me. I don't do that because the kids already understand that shopping is a special event.  They feel bad enough at the loss.  

    Owners of football teams need to start understanding that this is not acceptable any more with fans. That they are going to have to screen their choices better for their teams. 

    Owners of football teams need to start understanding

    Not just the Owners, but the fans need to understand. 

    This is not to condone the actions of the abusive boyfriend or father, but what didn’t society  or fans understand about violence and its affects?

    Fans want more violence, whether it is football, NASCAR,  MMA style fighting; because boxing became blasé / boring,  because there was not enough violence

    Who really are the fans that are crying out?

    Violence is being taught to the youth.

    Football players don’t start feeling anger on Sunday or Monday nights. They've been feeding their hearts and minds on "killing the play / er. They give their fans what they want to see with hard hits and injuries. Taking out a player might make the difference in winning; but just don't get caught for fear the heat will come down on the sport, by the minority appalled at the violence.  

    Many NASCAR fans don’t care to see cars go in circles they are drawn to the possible event of accidents because that is what thrills the crowds; as with boxing and MMA fighting, another example of blood lust.

    Again, what didn’t society understand about violence and its affects?

    People are warned

    Psalm 11:5

    The Lord g tests the righteous,

    but h his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence

    Doesn't spanking teach violence to youth?

    So because we all know that kids don't always cooperate when it comes to guidance and discipline, and because nobody seems to know which method, if any, will work, we tend to want to stay out of other peoples' parenting efforts.

    It is true that the difficulty involved with being a good parent can make a person more tolerant of other people's decisions than those who have not done that work. The freedom to mess up or build up the minds of one's offspring is not only a result of social conventions and expectations but is written into the polity of our state in the form of the right to establish religions.

    While the arrangement is messy and permits all sorts of behavior that I detest, it is preferable to the moral clarity of places overseen by the likes of Cromwell and Khomeini. Our system gives a lot of power to individual parents. I have met many people who have no business raising kids.  But they have them and they are required to bring them up. Much of what makes punishing a kid until they are "righteous" stupid is unfortunately the same dynamic involved with punishing the people who have no business raising children. Each new communication is just another beating.

    While the above expresses my uncertainty about the best response to the evil of punishing children in ways that deform them for life, I am free in the church of my own faith to note that resorting to force is usually more of a reflection of the beating hand than the one who receives it. I can only be someone who has to be listened to if I listen really well myself. When you give a child the right to speak for themselves, they become keenly interested in the art of persuasion. It takes a lot of work to make that possible. There are times when you have to punish yourself.

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