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November 28, 2007 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Massachusetts lawmakers are debating a bill that would ban parents from spanking their children. Meanwhile, Corpun (previously)would like to remind you that it's not just for kids, but hey, we already knew that.
posted by mullingitover (158 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
How do they plan to enforce this?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:54 PM on November 28, 2007


How do they plan to enforce this?

You're talking about a country that ruthlessly prosecutes people who possess microscopic amounts of abundantly-growing plant material.
posted by Avenger at 9:00 PM on November 28, 2007 [11 favorites]


CitrusFreak12 writes "How do they plan to enforce this?"

I highly doubt that this will ever become law, despite the best of intentions. If it did, all lawmakers on record supporting it would get the proverbial spanking in the next election. Especially in a country that let Bush become president twice.
posted by mullingitover at 9:03 PM on November 28, 2007


wasn't this bill debated and shelved today?
posted by brandz at 9:06 PM on November 28, 2007


You're talking about a country that ruthlessly prosecutes people who possess microscopic amounts of abundantly-growing plant material.

We're throwing people who traffic in blackberry vines into the clink! ABOUT FKN TIME!

Oh, that kind of plant material.
posted by dw at 9:07 PM on November 28, 2007


Stop spanking your kids! Tase 'em instead!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:18 PM on November 28, 2007


Spanking is barbaric, unless done between consenting adults, and then it's sexy...and barbaric.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:21 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


please sir, may I have another?
posted by caddis at 9:21 PM on November 28, 2007


Full disclosure: my parents were enthusiastic supporters of spanking, and when I pulled the fire alarm on a visit to my siblings school at age 5, they even let the school principal have a whack or ten at me.

Personally I feel that it's an absolutely worthless parenting strategy, and I'm not a better person for it. I think support for spanking comes from rationalizing the fact that sometimes you just want to beat your kids. I love my parents, but I think they were physically abusing me every time they spanked me. When as a child I saw 60 Minutes episodes about crooked and abusive retirement homes, I thought to myself, yep, that's what they're getting for this.
posted by mullingitover at 9:22 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Before I was a parent, I was staunchly anti-spanking and couldn't even imagine what would make a person want to hit their own kid.

Picture a smaller version of yourself with all of your bad faults and habits and no sense of consequences.
posted by ColdChef at 9:29 PM on November 28, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'm not a better person for it.

Did you ever pull another fire alarm?
posted by QuietDesperation at 9:30 PM on November 28, 2007


QuietDesperation writes "Did you ever pull another fire alarm?"

No, but two years later I burned my house down with a Care Bear. Coincidence?
posted by mullingitover at 9:33 PM on November 28, 2007


QuietDesperation writes "Did you ever pull another fire alarm?"

Oh, and also, I pulled the alarm because I was unattended, could barely read, and I complied with the instructions on the device ("Pull"). I had no clue what it was or what the consequences would be. The person at fault was the adult who was supposed to be watching me.
posted by mullingitover at 9:35 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Before I was a parent, I was staunchly anti-spanking and couldn't even imagine what would make a person want to hit their own kid.

Yeah? I want to whack people all the time, but you just can't, you know? Jesus, I wish I could beat people to make them do what I wanted. Life would be so much simpler.

The thing is, it's just not right to violently enforce your will over other humans. I suppose I can see the justification for spanking a child if it's really the only way to keep them from hurting themselves worse, but beyond that, you should probably figure something else out.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:43 PM on November 28, 2007 [9 favorites]


I think support for spanking comes from rationalizing the fact that sometimes you just want to beat your kids.

It could be an effective "teaching" (aka conditioning) technique if applied evenly, forgetting for the moment about the morals of hitting another human being nevermind in particular a helpless one. But when do parents usually hit their kids? In anger. All that "technique" talk goes out the window when all they really intend to do is get rid of a little frustration.
posted by dreamsign at 9:47 PM on November 28, 2007


If we don't spank our kids, where we get our next generation of Taser happy cops!?
posted by delmoi at 9:48 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, but two years later I burned my house down with a Care Bear. Coincidence?

If you were my kid, I would have whooped your ass for that.
posted by bradth27 at 10:06 PM on November 28, 2007


Spanking mostly serves to teach kids that you can get what you want by hitting someone.
posted by dhammond at 10:07 PM on November 28, 2007


bradth27 writes "If you were my kid, I would have whooped your ass for that."

I should explain. I was in Tutuila, American Samoa. It was humid. There were closet heaters to keep the mildew out. Brilliantly, these consisted of a heating element which screwed into a light socket on the floor of the closet. There was nothing, no mesh or screen, protecting this heating element.

I was playing with my stuffed animal friend, as children are wont to do. When I was done, like a good child, I tossed my toy in the closet. It landed on the heating element. I went back out to play. I returned an hour later to flames billowing from the house and the wail of firetrucks.

The next place the Samoan government moved us to had nice mesh covers over those heating elements.
posted by mullingitover at 10:10 PM on November 28, 2007


Or, for that matter, the next generation of BDSM subs? Won't someone please think of the tops?!
posted by Talanvor at 10:11 PM on November 28, 2007


Here and I was getting ready to be all impressed with someone who can start a fire with just a Care Bear. :)
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:12 PM on November 28, 2007


The only thing I "learned" from being spanked is that big people get to hit little people and complaining about justifies hitting them again.

...my politics suddenly make so much more sense!
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:13 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


As a parent who received quite a few spankings as a child, I swore that I would never do the same to my children.

I ended up with an 8 year-old son that talked back, made rude comments at the table, slapped people in the face, and generally had no respect at all for his parents or anyone else.

We tried all the "time-outs," taking away his video games, grounding him, not letting his friends come over.... I even perfected the "daddy look." Nothing worked.

So I started whoopin' his ass. Now he's a great kid.
posted by bradth27 at 10:17 PM on November 28, 2007 [6 favorites]


But should it be determined by law that parents cannot spank their children? That's the issue here. What happens if spanking is made illegal? If a mother in the park swats her kid's ass a few times for some typical childhood infraction, are you going to turn the mother in? Fine that mom a month's wages and put "child beater" on her record? Have the cops handcuff her and take her away, and put the child in a stranger's arms? Put her name on an internet list and prevent her from living or working within a thousand feet of places where children congregate? You might consider some of this stuff if she was known to grab and severely beat other people's children at random, but how much should the law be involved over a mother and her child and a spanking?

(We waterboard our kids. It leaves almost no marks, it's fairly quiet, and you can do it in the bathroom or basement with just regular tap water and a little cheap lumber. "Who ate the chocolate chip cookies? Just give us a name and you're free to go.")
posted by pracowity at 10:18 PM on November 28, 2007 [4 favorites]


BTW, before we get all hypothetical with how a spanking ban would be enforced, per the article:
Corporal punishment in the home is already illegal in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the Ukraine.
Perhaps we can ask some of these backwater places how it's working out for them and how they're enforcing it.
posted by mullingitover at 10:23 PM on November 28, 2007


Let me just say, for the record, that I oppose both spaking and making laws against it.

I got spanked all the time when I was a kid. It never taught me to be a better person since, I would estimate, about 60% of the time I was being spanked for something my sister did but then blamed on me. Also, there was no rationality behind it. I would get spanked for infraction A on Monday, but not be spanked for infraction A when I did it on Tuesday. Or, I would get spanked for being cranky, tired, not knowing the answers to certain questions. "Did you do that on purpose?" "Um, yeah?" (I was like 5 years old and didn't know what the word "purpose" meant. Is it good? Bad? I didn't know!) I'd get spanked whenever dad was angry (which was often) or when mom got the brunt of dad's anger (which was also often). Spanking, as a form of punishment or discipline, is just too hamfisted and harmful to be effective.

This, incidentally, is also why I oppose making laws against it. The potential for abuse is too high. It's already possible to go to jail or have your children taken away for vague accusations from neighbors or teachers.

A better idea, I think, would be to socially stigmatize spanking to the point where people give it up on their own, or are at least ashamed when caught doing it -- much like we've done with racism. That same strategy might work with misbehaving kids, too.
posted by Avenger at 10:26 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, as an adult, I enjoy getting my ass swatted in a consentual way once in a while. Mostly because, while it does sting a bit, it's done in a spirit of eroticism or playfulness, which makes it enjoyable instead of cruel or sad.

Whereas one of the worst parts of being spanked as a child is knowing that your parent is angry or hateful enough enough to actually hurt you. I think that realization as a child probably hurt me more than the actual hand across my ass.
posted by Avenger at 10:38 PM on November 28, 2007


You might consider some of this stuff if she was known to grab and severely beat other people's children at random, but how much should the law be involved over a mother and her child and a spanking?

I assume that if a woman saw you doing something you really probably shouldn't (say, smoking) and took it upon herself to give you a few swats across the backside to correct your behavior, you'd probably want her arrested. Now, you're probably objecting that this is a stranger, and that makes it different, so let's fix our facts.

Now she's following you around, hitting you every time you do anything wrong, and you are powerless to escape her. I daresay this might even make you a better person--at least from a certain perspective. However, if anything, the situation is more problematic than before.

I think some of us in this thread are having trouble seeing just what about the parent-child relationship justifies violence for the parent's convenience.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 10:43 PM on November 28, 2007 [2 favorites]


Corporal punishment in the home is already illegal in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden and the Ukraine.

Canada has revisited the issue several times, and isn't done with it yet.

I think some of us in this thread are having trouble seeing just what about the parent-child relationship justifies violence for the parent's convenience.

Bingo. You said the magic word. Coming up with hypotheticals where you must spank or the child might die sounds so much like our hypotheticals in favour of torture (if you don't, the dirty bomb goes off!). Real life is that seldom cut and dried. Parents are tired, and they know the violent option is better remembered. You want to remind your kid a hundred times or once? It's convenience.
posted by dreamsign at 10:50 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


Did you ever pull another fire alarm?

If you were planning on replying "See." when he said "No", then this is an exceptionally poor argument. That kind of reduction does nothing to resolve the issue. What if his parents had thrown him in a closet and then thrown a snake in afterwards? If he had never pulled another fire alarm you could say an aversive response was successfully applied but whether it was good parenting or not would still be an open (!) question.

This isn't intended as an anti-corporal punishment argument. I'm not a parent, and I don't have much of an opinion on the subject beyond a gut feeling that this is not as important of an issue as either side makes it out to be. The passion and commitment that some of the more fervent adherents bring to the debate seems overdone. I doubt this is a significant enough variable to warrant legislation. Could there be another situation where it is more important to tailor decisions to the individual personality as it is in raising a child? Probably not the best spot to limit a person's options without heavy evidence.
posted by BigSky at 10:54 PM on November 28, 2007


There are things a two year old has to learn if he's going to live to see age 3.

You do not play in the street.
You do not stick anything into electrical outlets.
You don't screw around with the stove when Mommy is cooking.
You don't try to open the bottles in the medicine cabinet in the bathroom

There's no point in trying to reason with such a kid. A two year old isn't going to understand "electrocution". A kid that age won't even understand "death". But they do understand a swat on the rear end, and telling a kid, "If you stick a knife in the electrical outlet, you're going to get paddled" could save that kid's life.

I understand that there are people who use corporal punishment badly, but there are times and places where nothing else will do.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:59 PM on November 28, 2007 [12 favorites]


Here is a selection of recent articles from the New Zealand Herald regarding reactions to the recently-introduced anti-smacking legislation, including some issues with enforcement.
posted by nomis at 11:20 PM on November 28, 2007


You know SCDB, there is a thing called baby-proofing your house. We've done it with our toddler. Keeps her out of trouble, and there's no need for a spanking. Besides, when she gets upset and throws a temper tantrum, it's so adorable. We just take a time out, then go on with our lives.
posted by jefbla at 11:22 PM on November 28, 2007 [3 favorites]


Some more info: NZ's anti-smacking legislation only came into effect in May this year, and this article reports the first (I think) assault conviction under the new law, on 21 November.
posted by nomis at 11:26 PM on November 28, 2007


What SCDB said. My parents didn't believe in spanking (and they made sure I knew that and why) and the only time I ever got swatted on my ass is when I ran into traffic to get my ball when I was 7.

I cried a little bit, and my parents patiently explained to me why you ALWAYS LOOK BOTH WAYS and why they don't like to hit me. They never spanked me again and, for the most part, I decided never to give them a reason.
posted by dhammond at 11:28 PM on November 28, 2007


kids believe they are the center of the universe. the only way they'll ever find out that they aren't is to get banged about a bit. i was looking for a shirt once on one of those big round racks in a clothing store and someone's kid was doing laps aroung it screaming, "mom, look at me!" when i couldn't stand it anymore i stuck my foot out and tripped the little bastard. this led to a confrontation with it's mother, who thought the kid had every right to interfere with my needing a shirt. in any social situation, when i encounter people with kids, i'm gone. face it, most adults are disgusting and kids are just adults without constraint.
posted by kitchenrat at 11:34 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm with Kitchenrat. Its marred my generation. Everyone of them thinks their a fucking rockstar. Its incredibly tedious when you can't go anywhere without hitting some poor fools whose parents should have constrained them.

just because were headed in the same direction does not mean I'm following you.
posted by Rubbstone at 11:44 PM on November 28, 2007


I think slapping is wrong and parents shouldn't do it.

I'm a parent, and occasionally (a dozen times in my five-year-old's life) I've given him a single slap for something.

I think that any law should have exceptions for reasonable chastisement - a definition that can then change as cultural norms change.
posted by athenian at 11:47 PM on November 28, 2007


Heh, nomis beat me to it, so to speak.

I'm a bit appalled at how kitchenrat and Rubbstone conflate "no spanking" with "no discipline". I am a father, I have a well-behaved child, and I never raised a hand to her. Never needed to.

Having said that, I opposed the law change in NZ; I believed existing laws against child abuse were adequate. What really prompted it were a couple of bizarre cases where defendants were aquitted on assault charges having beaten their kids with horsewhips (in one case) and a rubber hose (in another), because they claimed a defence of parental discipline. So we removed the defence of parental discipline, just to make it impossible for a senile old judge to let abusers off.

Our law change didn't actually make it illegal to smack your kid. It removed the defence of parental discipline for charges of assault. There is a subtle difference there. You can think of all kinds of violence (eg tackling in football) that for various reasons don't usually end up as assault charges, and the argument in our country was that the odd light smack wouldn't either.

The story about burning down the house in Samoa reminds me that we have a big Samoan community in New Zealand, who are mostly very religious, and big believers in not sparing the rod. They were very largely against the law change we had, which is interesting, because they are also usually Labour voters (Labour is the party which predominates in our governing coalition). For various reasons to do with geography and voter distribution (many Samoans live in South Auckland which is a Labour electoral stronghold) this law change might be instrumental in bringing down the government at the next election. Or not. Too soon to tell.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:57 PM on November 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm currently dealing with a neighborhood kid that received plenty of tough 'love'. He's dealing it out to a bunch of the much younger kids now and a few his age who don't go in for fights. I fantasize about kicking his scrawny ass, oh how I do, but calling his mother and keeping a close eye on him (and making sure everyone else does too) is keeping his damage in check. I wish I could be nicer and more understanding about him, but he's learned to hurt other kids to get his way and that just doesn't fly.
Call me a NIMBY, but if you make one of these little shits and let them loose near my kid I will hound your ass for all eternity.
posted by maryh at 12:03 AM on November 29, 2007


There's no point in trying to reason with such a kid. A two year old isn't going to understand "electrocution". A kid that age won't even understand "death". But they do understand a swat on the rear end, and telling a kid, "If you stick a knife in the electrical outlet, you're going to get paddled" could save that kid's life.

When he was two my son also didn't understand "electrocution" or "death" when he went for a socket. He did, however, seem to get "that will really, really hurt you, like when you ..." (and I forget the illustrative incident, though I think it involved him grabbing a candle on a birthday cake).

Nothing in your example demands violence. If the child can understand an artificial consequence ("I'll hit you if you do that,"), the same child will be able to understand a natural consequence expressed in age-appropriate terms, like "that will hurt you."

In all fairness, we also avoided leaving sockets unbabyproofed and did not leave knives laying around, so it wasn't something fated to come up that often anyhow. But in two of your scenarios (sockets, ovens), explaining the natural consequence apparently worked as well as threatening an artificial one: The dangerous behavior ended, it didn't come up again.

Spanking was very common in my home when I was a kid. "Neighbors coming over to express concern" common. So maybe my belief that any spanking or hitting is pretty much the nuclear option comes from having no experience with any of the sober, judicious and restrained hitting that spanking advocates claim to engage in. I get the logic, but have no model I'd want to emulate.
posted by mph at 12:13 AM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know SCDB, there is a thing called baby-proofing your house.

Yes, but you can't baby-proof the world, including all the other houses that your kid might visit. Better to world-proof your baby. That's safer.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:47 AM on November 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


I find it a bit odd no one has yet mentioned the possibility that not all kids are the same and what works for your kids may not work for someone else's. You really want more laws? What, child protective services being free from the constraints placed on every other law enforcement agency in the country isn't enough for you? Every few days there's some lament about the relatively enormous percentage of our population that's incarcerated for stupid shit. This is why, people. MYODB.
posted by IronLizard at 1:07 AM on November 29, 2007 [5 favorites]


My wife and I just had lunch the other day with her friend and husband and their two-year old girl. Whenever the kid would do something "naughty", which basically amounted to not sitting still, they would give her a bonk on the top of the head. Not hard, but enough to get her attention. The kid actually responded well to it, and would look at Mom or Dad and listen to the "Don't do that!" and comply.

My wife and I later thought that was just silly. I can understand why parents do so, and I just might do that myself when I become a father, but being spanked as a kid did nothing but piss me off. Carrots work much better than sticks, and that goes for kids and adults.
posted by zardoz at 1:21 AM on November 29, 2007


Spanking, done right, can be an effective parenting tool. Sometimes, the only way a young child can be effectively discouraged from doing something that endangers themselves and others is via an association of that act with strong negativity.

that said....

Most spankings do occur out of adult frustration, and are primarily meeting the desires of the adult doing the spanking, not the needs of the child. That, and there are much safer, more humane negative associations you can give a child that don't involve physical pain, and the act of a loved one striking them.
posted by tehloki at 1:46 AM on November 29, 2007


Perhaps we can ask some of these backwater places how it's working out for them and how they're enforcing it.
posted by mullingitover

As I'm from one of these backwater places, I'll be happy to share my thoughts on the subject matter. It's like any other form of child abuse. A neighbour, baby sitter, teacher or whoever takes the first step in informing the authorities. But, unlike America, Finland isn't completely lawyered-up and a normal spanking would never make it to court.

On a personal note, my parents managed to control both myself and my sister throughout our entire childhood without ever physically hurting us or even raising their voice. I attribute this equally to both my parents and my schooling. If you're allowed to act up for half of the day either at school or at home, you're going to go for the one that is more fun. Get (fair) discipline in both places and that's all you'll know.

Just my opinion on the matter. But know for a fact that if I see you slapping your child in public, I will do the same to you. I will never see eye to eye with people like SCDB. Besides, who knows, maybe when I have kids I'll discover the joys of physically abusing a defenseless person who can't report me to the police.
posted by slimepuppy at 3:24 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was spanked only once (for throwing a slipper across the room and knocking a vase over). I did however, get the "arm squeeze" and "look of death". That was enough to make me piss my pants. Oh and then there was that whole mental abuse thing, but pshaw on that.
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:35 AM on November 29, 2007


I will never see eye to eye with people like SCDB. Besides, who knows, maybe when I have kids I'll discover the joys of physically abusing a defenseless person who can't report me to the police.

Amazing. Joys, eh? You really believe that parents who spank their children (not including the usual deviant, but minority, element in the population) enjoy it? You're one sick puppy. No wonder you'll never see eye to eye, you're too busy concentrating your own misconceptions.
posted by IronLizard at 3:41 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


If I ever swung to the pro-spanking side of the debate, my younger self would disown me.
posted by liquorice at 3:50 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ah, sorry. I'll use the <sarcastic hyperbole&gt tag next time to make it clearer. I'm sure most people preface all spankings with the classic "this is going to hurt me more than it will you" to make them feel better.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:06 AM on November 29, 2007


Cock it. <sarcastic hyperbole> tag. My html needs a spanking.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:08 AM on November 29, 2007


This is about the time I'm supposed to insinuate that you are suffering from some kind of suppressed sado-masochistic-pedophilia and a tendency to project this underlying flaw onto others. Later I'll begin commenting to the effect that it's not so suppressed after all. You know, to keep the sarcastic hyperbole theme going. Since discussing it without thinly veiled insults and flawed logic wouldn't be cool enough for you.
posted by IronLizard at 4:22 AM on November 29, 2007


HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- The stepfather of a 2-year-old girl lost control and beat her to death because she wouldn't say "please" and "yes sir," an attorney for the girl's mother said Wednesday.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:44 AM on November 29, 2007


Yes, but you can't baby-proof the world, including all the other houses that your kid might visit. Better to world-proof your baby. That's safer.

Golly, Steve, I thought we're supposed to baby-proof them over there so they don't stick our fingers in sockets over here.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:48 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


-God, that's gotta suck. You know that feeling, when you think what you just wrote was so clever and you had that smug "man, what a great snotty response" thing going on, maybe chuckling at your own comment and then right after hitting the Post button you actually realize as the page is refreshing "oh shit! Wow, that's actually the dumbest and most completely fucking ignorant thing I've ever written!" and you just sort of have to reload it and wait, knowing it'll be about ten minutes before someone points out how utterly dumb it was? Those are the worst ones, becuase, you know, you're not trying to troll which is just annoying and you get off on that, but that feeling where you actually think some complete stranger on a message board is going to be devestated and defeated by your rapier wit and then you realize- damn, you're the one who looks like the jackass here. Man, that has got to suck. Jeez. Tough break.

Thanks XQUZYPHYR, it would have been a bitch to type all that out
posted by IronLizard at 4:53 AM on November 29, 2007


You mean what I said? The link to a story or wondering about the amazing hypocrisy in Steven's logic?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:55 AM on November 29, 2007


Go for it.

Calling a law 'stupid shit' and excusing what I (and 19 countries) consider child abuse because people should mind their own damn business hardly engenders a reasoned discussion.

I prefaced my own thinly veiled insults and flawed logic with an attempt at providing some legal and cultural background/justifications for my feelings on the subject matter.

And yes, in retrospect I should have not had that final sentence in my first comment, but my blood kind of boils when people defend child abuse.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:56 AM on November 29, 2007


Children react to fear in parents, and generally they don't like to do things that really, really upset their parents. This, getting seriously and visible stressed/scared/angered, is enough to keep kids doing dangerous things. Unless being angry and stressed is something that you do routinely. If so, you easily feel that there is only one way to go to really stress your words.

Physical punishment is unknown to me and my peers, as we all have had so balanced families that raising a voice and being angry has really meant something. If you feel like spanking is necessary, it should ring alarm bells about your own life -- why have your kids got used to your being upset?

At the other end are macho dads that like to portray themselves as strict and just, but just cannot bring themselves to show their kids how scared they are when kids do stupid things.
posted by Free word order! at 5:10 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


You mean what I said? The link to a story or wondering about the amazing hypocrisy in Steven's logic?

The fact that the link in the story has nothing to do with what SCDB said. Here we go conflating corporal punishment with abuse again. A swat on the behind compared to beating a kid to death. Nice.

I (and 19 countries) consider child abuse

19? Out of how many again? Cherry picking only 19 can net you an amazing number of illegal activities that are innocuous in the rest.
Your justifications may well hold up in NZ, but not here. You pointed out yourself how 'lawyered up' this country has become. Here, make something illegal and the police will more than happily enforce it. With tasers if they're bored. Consider this, we already have laws against child abuse and, in my state particular (and nearly all others are in line with this, iirc), they're worded broadly enough to cover most anything an agent of social services chooses to consider abuse. How does adding another layer improve any of this? It doesn't. It just increases the likelihood or 'selective enforcement' and we all know what that's an epithet for. So go ahead, pretend that the already overburdened agencies here can fairly and accurately cope with the ensuing flood of complaints. They can hardly handle the current ratio of 60% BS calls. Oh and you're aware that their funding is, like the police, performance based? Guess what metric they use.
posted by IronLizard at 5:17 AM on November 29, 2007


Two adults want to smack each other around during sexy fun times? More power to them. But I've already had my say about spanking kids.
posted by FunkyHelix at 5:17 AM on November 29, 2007


or 'selective enforcement'
of, should be 'of'.

posted by IronLizard at 5:18 AM on November 29, 2007


Calling a law 'stupid shit'

Also, you missed the context of that statement completely. Have a look at the front page.
posted by IronLizard at 5:25 AM on November 29, 2007


Dad is angry at the computer again. Let's go play on the driveway!
posted by Free word order! at 5:39 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I find it a bit odd no one has yet mentioned the possibility that not all kids are the same and what works for your kids may not work for someone else's.

Finally.

Kids up to age 2-3 really don't get 'reason', by and large. They do understand cause-and-effect, though. They really have no concept of death or even serious injury beyond the most superficial understanding. They cannot comprehend that if they stick the fork in that outlet or get run over by that car, they may never get back up again. They progress from there, and some kids do so faster than others. Some respond very well to losing toys, privileges, and liberties. Others don't. Some disorders like AD/HD that affect kids can make things even more complicated.

Having said that, I think laws like the one proposed in MA are ridiculous. Growing up, my siblings and I were spanked from time to time. Sometimes it was warranted, sometimes it wasn't really(in my mind, at least), but I wouldn't say that it was at any time classifiable as 'abuse'.

And, that informs my own decisions as a parent, too. I will use spanking if and when the situation warrants, and if my hand is forced. I use it as a solution of last resort. I give the kids every opportunity to comply--but if we've been through simple admonition, if we've been through stronger admonition, if we've been through 'Timeout' and they are still being willfully disobedient.....well, then, if a contact event is the only thing that will compel them to obey, so be it. Never hard enough to really *hurt*--but enough so to ensure that my message has been received unambiguously.

If one is going to resort to spanking, though, I think it has to be done that way, as a last resort, and it must be applied consistently. If you or your spouse/SO feel that it is happening as a result of your own anger and/or frustration, maybe steer away from it. If I find myself *really* angry over something they've done, I find it more effective to simply order them to their room, door closed and silent, until I'm cooled off.

I find that as my kids get older in general, I have to spank less and less---they understand now that if Dad begins to count to three, they had better go ahead and comply by two....because if Dad gets to three, it is already too late.;)
posted by spirit72 at 5:57 AM on November 29, 2007


Call me crazy, but I do not and never will equate an occasional spanking or slap with child abuse, and I find the sheer number of politically correct adults who do so eagerly in this thread surprising.

All this really illustrates for me is that the vast majority of you are unfamiliar with abuse and how it functions, and have never been on the receiving end of it.

Let me provide some anecdotal evidence:

I have been on the receiving end of a spank or a slap when I was much younger and I have been on the receiving end of what you could constitute physical abuse (God, I really hate saying that) by the same man, my father.

And without getting into any details, let me just say that a is nowhere near b. I will accept that they are on the same spectrum, but they are so far apart, so incredibly distinct not only in reference of intent but in the way they are experienced that even attempting to equate them is misguided and ignorant.

Being spanked because you fucked up, while unpleasant and perhaps a little ineffective (all I can really say it did for me was make me angry, and make me want to talk back MORE, but then I'm extremely stubborn and contrarian and was possibly more so as a child), is nowhere near being thrown into a wall, or being threatened, or being slapped in the face out of unfounded anger. Quite frankly, I find it extremely offensive that one would even dare to make that connection. By lessening "abuse" to a bottom spank you're only serving to deflate the significance of the word.
posted by nonmerci at 6:10 AM on November 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'd also like to add that there is certainly a possibility for spanking to devolve into abuse, or for spanking to be the excuse a parent takes to abuse his or her child(ren)--but in terms of the spank we associate with disciplining a child (that is to say with little force applied in specific situations, &c.), I do not at all equate it with abuse.

It's a slippery slope to be sure, at least in terms of adequately discussing it, but I think there is a huge differentiation between the two as noted above, and I don't think it's at all fair or even correct to say that one equals the other. It's simply not true.
posted by nonmerci at 6:19 AM on November 29, 2007


Most of the reasons people come up with to rationalize hitting kids are exactly the same ones people come up with to rationalize violent (yeah, you guessed it) dog training: you can't reason with them, all the ones I know who weren't trained/raised with violence were undisciplined little shits, it's more effective, blah blah blah. The fact that some people do things non-violently but ineffectively, or choose non-violence but don't replace it with anything else, does not mean that violence works better, the fact that some people confuse non-violence with permissiveness also doesn't mean that violence works better, it just means that you have to be a bit more creative sometimes to find non-violent ways to parent/train dogs, especially if you were raised with violence as your parenting/dog training model. There is plenty of information out there about other ways to do things.

I was never hit, I was raised with logical consequences ("if you do this, then this will happen" e.g. "if you don't stop shouting, we are leaving") and consistency (if I didn't stop shouting, we left), and they worked just fine, I was a well-behaved and polite child because I wanted to do the right thing, because my parents took the time and made the effort to TEACH me why the right thing was the right thing, instead of just whacking me when I was caught doing the wrong thing. You absolutely CAN reason with a child, you just have to put some effort into finding a way to do so in a way the child can understand. We have big primate brains, we should be prepared to use them to raise our kids properly, like evolved human beings, instead of taking the soft option and teaching them that violence is a suitable way to solve problems/get people to do what you want/take out your frustrations and that they'd just better not get caught in future.

I simply don't understand how people on Metafilter, who are otherwise so pacifist as a general rule, who take such exception to tasering and war, don't apply the same set of criteria to using violence to teach the most vulnerable members of our society.
posted by biscotti at 6:21 AM on November 29, 2007 [6 favorites]


When my parents would spank me, they would first send me to their bedroom while they would "cool off." When they weren't angry at me any more, then they would come in, make sure I understood why I was being punished, and then spank me. Afterwards, they'd give me a hug and make sure that I knew that they still loved me.

Most of the time, they reserved spanking for directly disobeying them. They would first tell me not to do something. Only if I continued would they proceed to spank me.

That seems to be about the right measure of spanking. Slapping a child when he annoys you, just for catharsis's sake, just makes him angry at you.

Your mileage may vary.
posted by JDHarper at 6:33 AM on November 29, 2007


Growing up, I was spanked maybe once. It didn't really do much, and my parents never did it again (they didn't like doing it to begin with, they just thought that's what they were supposed to do). Whenever possible, my parents would reason with me, explain why my actions had consequences, and rely on non-physical punishments. For the most part, it worked.

Now, when they tried the same techniques on my younger brother, it did pretty much nothing. If there was a rule, he would try to break it, just on general principle. Eventually, they started spanking him. Not hard, just a light slap to get his attention. It worked. He's a pretty well-adjusted guy now, and not violent at all.

Also, I'd like to point out that the assumption that actually hitting someone is always worse than other forms of violence is ridiculous. Constraining someone to a room for half an hour is also violent, and if you did it to another adult it would be illegal. In fact, when I was a kid, I would have preferred a spanking to more prolonged consequences. At least a spanking is over in a few seconds.

You can't equate a parent who sends a kid to her room for a time out with a parent who leaves a child in a closet for 48 hours. And it's just as silly to equate parents who spank appropriately with parents who beat their kids.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 6:34 AM on November 29, 2007


nonmerci, my sympathy for whatever you went through regardless, I don't understand how you're reaching that logic. The fact that you were abused in different levels of extremity doesn't negate the "lesser" abuse being abuse. People can be abused without having a hand laid on them. And like every other instance of it, throwing down the ever-annoying "you're so politically correct" card is just plain nonsense. I don't think I'm being "politically" correct. Like in every other argument, I'm saying what I'm saying because I think I'm correct, period. I'm not saying this because I want Naomi Wolf's approval, for Chrissakes.

But you know, I've read "not all kids are the same" and "some kids need to be hit" about a dozen times now in this thread. I didn't realize there were so many MeFites who actually do think violence is the only language people understand.

Hitting kids is one of those leaps in logic I simply do not fathom. If you punch an adult square in the face, no matter what awful thing they did or said to you, it's assault. If you're furious at your spouse or girlfriend and slap her across the face, it's domestic abuse. Christ, if you hit a dog people would look at you like you're Satan. But, apparently, being a smaller, weaker, and less-knowledged person makes it okay to inflict pain as a conflict resolution method.

And if you're going to snipe back that it's meeeeeannn to equate slapping a kid around with anything else, like beating or war or any other form of violence, well, tough shit. Because it is the same thing. Just like war and terrorism and slapping the shit out of your wife, it's not a sign of proper management, or parenting, or governing, or conflict resolution. It's a sign of your personal weakness. You don't know how to handle a situation. You can't take it anymore. You don't know what else to do. How dare someone think they can speak to you like that. So let's slap someone. Good fucking job.

Far too many people think the suggestion that parenting is the hardest job in the world is hyperbole; it's not. The sheer number of people in this world shrieking in outrage over the notion that it's wrong to beat children simply proves that the majority of people in this world who are parents weren't ready to be yet.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:43 AM on November 29, 2007 [5 favorites]


I will use spanking if and when the situation warrants, and if my hand is forced.

One thing I've picked up from parenthood is how different every kid is, and how utterly non evidence-based child rearing is. There's often no simple answer to this kind of thing.

And yet I think this is flat-out wrong. An infant cannot force your hand. If you're not in control of yourself, don't spank.
posted by ~ at 6:52 AM on November 29, 2007


~ wrote:

One thing I've picked up from parenthood is how different every kid is, and how utterly non evidence-based child rearing is. There's often no simple answer to this kind of thing.

Amen!

And yet I think this is flat-out wrong. An infant cannot force your hand. If you're not in control of yourself, don't spank

Now, see, you're making assumptions here.....I don't believe that an *infant* should ever be spanked. I'm not sure where you got that impression, if indeed you were referring to my comments.
posted by spirit72 at 6:58 AM on November 29, 2007


Some spankers hired me as a babysitter for their 3-year-old. They and the kid had a hardwired pattern: kid acts unbearable, escalates 'til gently swatted, dissolves in cathartic sobs while daddy hugs her and tells her not to do it again, princess. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. It was hiiiiideous to watch, but the worst was, when the parents leave, the kid tries it with me. WTF am I supposed to do? Besides the fact that I find the nauseous mess they've made of the child's personality and the whole effing thing morally repugnant, I'm the babysitter, and there's that whole shakin' the baby thing--you're way more apt to go to jail for swatting a child if you're just some idiot, not the parent who "has the right." So we spend a fruitless afternoon amid the my little ponies while the kid escalates escalates escalates trying with increasing frustration to get me to deliver her payoff for hours and hours until the parents get home! Imagine the fun! If you're going to get your kid on a chimp-out 'til swatted reinforcement schedule that turns it into a teeny tiny little spankgeek, please don't have anybody else care for your kid ever ever ever. Keep your school for future geeks under wraps please. I still have nightmares.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:59 AM on November 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


I find it a bit odd no one has yet mentioned the possibility that not all kids are the same and what works for your kids may not work for someone else's.

I feel the other way - that there are parents who are good at parenting, who WORK at it, and there are parents who use spanking as a constant tool because they don't WANT to work at it. And there are shades of gray, of course. I'm not calling every parent who spanks at all a terrible person or anything.

Obviously some kids are more difficult than others, but I see spanking as laziness/frustration at not being able to immediately communicate something to the child. I'll probably get flamed for saying so, but I don't see any reason why hitting a child is ever warranted. There are better ways. I'm sorry that many parents don't know how to cope, and that's why we really should have more help for parents in some capacity. I don't know what that is, exactly, but it's still shocking to me when I think that there is absolutely no guidance automatic with having a kid - we require driver's licenses, for example, but there are no requirements to be met for being a parent.
posted by agregoli at 7:01 AM on November 29, 2007


Fair enough, spirit72, that was pretty loaded. Change that to "kid".
posted by ~ at 7:03 AM on November 29, 2007


If you can't beat your kids, who can you beat?
posted by chunking express at 7:07 AM on November 29, 2007 [2 favorites]


Spanking a child does not equal "beating a child" in the same way that sending a child to bed without dinner is not "starving a child." There's a difference. There's no form of discipline that SOMEONE won't call cruel. This is where individual responsibility comes into play.

I've been tempted several times to chime in with, "If you don't have kids of your own, then you won't understand." But I know that's no way to have a reasonable discussion about anything. I will say, however, that parenthood has a way of making you change even your most rock solid foundational beliefs.
posted by ColdChef at 7:17 AM on November 29, 2007 [3 favorites]


Consider this, we already have laws against child abuse and, in my state particular (and nearly all others are in line with this, iirc), they're worded broadly enough to cover most anything an agent of social services chooses to consider abuse. How does adding another layer improve any of this? It doesn't. It just increases the likelihood or 'selective enforcement' and we all know what that's an epithet for. So go ahead, pretend that the already overburdened agencies here can fairly and accurately cope with the ensuing flood of complaints. They can hardly handle the current ratio of 60% BS calls.

This is an interesting point and deserves more exploration. The notion of an opportunity cost isn't given enough attention in this discussion. Some of the thinking at the extreme is a little too absolute, i.e. spanking is absolutely wrong and must be legislated. But the choice is not between removing a child from a sub-optimal situation and putting him in an optimal one. Viewed abstractly, there is little logic in taking a child out of an abusive home, simply because the law allows for it. It's justified when there is a reasonable expectation that the new environment (foster home, group home, etc.) would constitute an improvement. Now that's not really a consequence that even the most fervid opponent of corporal punishment would assess for someone who spanks their child, but the principle is the same. Are the proposed interventions into a family's life likely to produce a worthwhile improvement? And the downside is easy to overlook, added stress to families (time, possible humiliation, possible expense), some chance of the parent child relationship deteriorating instead of improving, small chance of a poorly managed investigation leading to a disastrous outcome, and some communities will be more reserved in their dealings with the police. And if the overall expected outcome from these interventions is greater than the downside, then the real question is, are the expected net improvements from doing this legislation the best possible use of the money it would cost? Now, the above is far from the way policy is made or legislation passed but just setting it out convinces me that the legislature can find better things to get involved in.

And again, I'm not a proponent of physical punishment. In my opinion, one of the few substantial contributions psychology has made is behaviorism. Positive reinforcement has a lot of strong arguments in its favor. But whether it's prudent for the government to ban less effective options is a separate question.
posted by BigSky at 7:24 AM on November 29, 2007


Are there, for instance, licensed dog trainers out there who'll go on record with this line people have been using? "This dog is different. Most animals respond well to carrots, but this one has a special personality, and that means it gets the stick." No, surprisingly! So I guess the problem is either that some human children are poorer learners than rats and dogs, or that some human parents lack some tools or do not know how to use them.

Had I had the moral stamina to keep coming back to the house of horrors babysitting job and had I remained consistent in refusing to dole out swats, the babysittee would have learned eventually to quit asking ME for swats, although she would have gone on asking for them from her father and mother (unless they for some reason got a clue and stopped doling them out, too).
posted by Don Pepino at 7:30 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


donpepino:
Some spankers hired me as a babysitter for their 3-year-old. They and the kid had a hardwired pattern: kid acts unbearable, escalates 'til gently swatted, dissolves in cathartic sobs while daddy hugs her and tells her not to do it again, princess.

Something similar happened to Jean-Jacques Rousseau with his nanny, Miss Lambercier, at the age of eight. She realized what was going on the second time she spanked him, and stopped. But even those two incidents affected him for life. In Rousseau's words:

Who would believe this childish discipline, received at eight years old, from the hands of a woman of thirty, should influence my propensities, my desires, my passions, for the rest of my life, and that in quite a contrary sense from what might naturally have been expected?
posted by CrunchyFrog at 8:03 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


First of all, hitting a child is already illegal. It's called assault. That we don't acknowledge it as such is a testament to just how backwards the U.S. I'm all for this law, whether it's enforceable or not. Because at the very least parents who hit their kids will know they are breaking a law. And even though they think it is a dumb law, it will serve to marginalize them from society, and I'm all for marginalizing assholes who hit kids.

I understand that there are people who use corporal punishment badly, but there are times and places where nothing else will do.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 1:59 AM on November 29


I'm sorry, but this is idiotic. There is always something else. If the kid is reaching for the outlet, you grab the kid and pull them away, but this isn't hitting them.

Two year olds don't understand reason, true, but it may surprise you to know how overwhelming is the number of children who are not spanked and who also do not kill themselves in electrical outlets despite being curious about them. The logic that kids are too dumb to figure out the world is a failure to understand how kids think. Children process the world very differently from adults, but they do process it.

To the comments that relate how unruly kids who were then spanked became model children, let me ask you, is that all that happened? What else do you think happened in the childs mind? You don't think your child learned a lesson about how to use violence to get your will? You don't think they learned anything about how to be more deceitful to do whatever they want and somehow not get caught?

You don't think that child learned the lesson that the only people to listen to are the ones who can hurt you? Isn't that precisely the opposite lesson you want them to learn?

Let me put it this way. Parents like to spank the kids when they are 7 years old for misbehaving, but somehow these same parents stop spanking when the kid is 14 because "they've grown out of it"? Don't you actually mean that the kid at 14 is finally big enough to kick your geriatric ass and impose his will on you, so now you change the rules? This sends another message to the kid - don't trust your parents, because all they really want to enforce is control.

Furthermore, kids who are spanked somehow seem not to learn their lesson, have you noticed that? You would think that a kid would need to be spanked only once ever and they would get the message not to cross mommy or daddy ever again. But somehow they don't get this message, isn't that a funny thing? Why do you think that is?

I'll tell you why it is. Because the child integrates violence into their relationship with their parents. If the spanking stops, to the child, it means the relationship is fraying. The parent has lost interest in them, does not care about them and becoming distant. So they will act out in order to get spanked again. Mommy hits me and now she doesn't so mommy doesn't care about me. The child learns that spanking = love.

There is only one reason parents spank children, and that is because the parent wants to hit their kid because the parent has lost the ability to control themselves. The parent is overcome with anger, is frustrated, whatever, and hits not as a way of defusing the situation, but as a way a blowing it up. The parent joins in the escalating cycle the child is experiencing.

In other words, a parent who spanks a child is a parent who is too dumb to outsmart a child.

Children hit each other, of course they do. Because humans are animals and below a certain age, they do not have the communication or social skills to organize each other's behavior, they get frustrated and they lash out. Children hit because they lose control of themselves and their anger. But they are kids. Monkeys hit each other too. When kids age a little more, they learn to communicate more effectively with each other, and they stop this.

But children who are spanked develop an entirely different relationship with violence. The violence becomes part of their reasoning, not a function of its breakdown. They integrate it into their personality and they never grow out of it. They simply learn to deploy it more effectively without getting caught.

So swallow your pride, admit you have no idea how to raise kids because unless you've done it before there would be no reason to know this, and buy a parenting book or talk to a child psychologist.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:04 AM on November 29, 2007 [6 favorites]


Ladies and Gentlemen....let me introduce to you...

"The Uncle Chockehold!" ..works every time.
posted by doctorschlock at 8:11 AM on November 29, 2007


I am planning on spanking my kids, like , a lot, but that's because I'm planning on raising them to be ultimate fighters. I figure if I start early enough I might be able to get the little buggers on the circuit by like 8 or 9.
posted by Wonderwoman at 8:21 AM on November 29, 2007 [4 favorites]


i'd hit that!
posted by prototype_octavius at 8:30 AM on November 29, 2007


If you're furious at your spouse or girlfriend and slap her across the face, it's domestic abuse.

Unless you're in Ohio, and you're gay. In which case, carry on. Thanks, Issue One!

<>

I was spanked as a child, and I will probably spank my own children, should we have any. Ditto on the boyfriend.

(As in "he was spanked as a child and believes in spanking," you dirty, dirty MeFites).

Spanking, as I see it, is a last resort and reserved for exceptionally bad behavior, i.e. running out into the road after being repeatedly told not to do so.

And though I hate the dog/child comparison, let me tell you, as the mother of a supremely obstinate dachshund, I've had to use spanking before and it works. If she sees our neighbor across the street -- aka OMG THE GUY WITH DOG TREATS YAY! -- she wants so, so much to run across and jump all over him.

After a few spankings for doing just that, she's chilled to the point of sitting herself at the end of the sidewalk and looking back at me doing the pleasepleasepleeeeeeease can we go see him? dance instead. Did spanking work? Yeah, I think so. All her voice training goes out the window when his treats are involved, and she's nine years old, for heaven's sake.

Would I rather spank my kid or dog than have them continue to dash across the street whenever they want and possibly get killed? Hell yes.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:49 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't that not matter if your dog was properly controlled to begin with? As in, on a leash?

I've never heard any dog trainer advocate hitting the animal. Biscotti would probably have more to say on the subject that would be much more enlightening.
posted by agregoli at 8:59 AM on November 29, 2007


The child integrates violence into their relationship with their parents. If the spanking stops, to the child, it means the relationship is fraying. The parent has lost interest in them, does not care about them and becoming distant. So they will act out in order to get spanked again. Mommy hits me and now she doesn't so mommy doesn't care about me. The child learns that spanking = love.

Surely sometimes true, but the kid in my example wouldn't've thought her brand new babysitter was so crucial a person in her life. The situation is probably usually much less loaded and what's going on in the kid's head is more like, "This is a thrilliing little drama that we play out seventyfivethousand times a day in which I am... THE STAAAR!" But it's not worth it because of the risk that the child's malleable brain will be torqued so that either spanking = love or spanking = way titillating. And why would anyone want to risk that, even if the risk is small, when with a little imagination you can change up the scene so that the child can be the star of 75,000 dramatic productions per day with zero probability that its future will be Rousseau-ed? Is thirty seconds of peace and quiet right now before I go insane oh my god I told you 20 times to stop making that noise really so important that it's worth risking Rousseauing a child? Isn't it kinder to let our children find their inner Rousseau naturally in the fullness of time if that is their true bent rather than it is to force Rousseauness upon them?

In these situations where the kid knows that a certain behavior results in spanking, performs the behavior, gets the spanking and ceases the behavior for a while 'til the next time it gets bored, nobody's learning anything and no behavior is getting changed. The kid and the parent are just engaging in their usual, mutually gratifying perpetual motion machine impersonation. If the parent actually wants the kid to stop doing the thing that "makes" the parent spank the kid, the parent should do like Rousseau's nurse and stop delivering to the kid the spanking the kid is asking for when it performs the spankable offense. This course of action makes more sense then yelling "You're asking for it!" before launching in. The kid is all, "Well, duh."

(bitter-girl.com, you could've enlisted the help of the neighbor, supplied him with superlative treats and with many reps but without violence taught the dachsund that only stern looks come to dogs who cross the street in an unapproved manner--I bet it wouldn't've taken more than about 30 minutes or so. Maybe you suggested that, though, and the neighbor was uncooperative. In which case you should probably have beaten him. Uncooperative neighbors are incapable of learning any other way.)
posted by Don Pepino at 9:05 AM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Point being, agregoli, she doesn't need to be on a leash when she's in her own yard, and she's perfectly trained until it comes down to spotting OMG TREAT GUY. If you've never been owned by a dachshund, let me tell you, it's like living with a permanent three-year-old who's just smart enough to get themselves into plenty of trouble and just dumb enough not to care.

She actually knows she's doing something wrong when she does it -- once, as I was leaving the house and my boyfriend was just pulling in from work, he walked in on her tipping the garbage can. She'd waited until she heard my car leave to do it. And the second she saw him, she ran for it. So she knows she's doing something wrong, she just doesn't care.

The human child comparison, I suspect, would be the "ball goes into the road" one. Do you keep your kid on a leash? (well, some parents do, but I think that's absurd). Is your kid generally well-behaved when playing in their yard? Ok, throw the ball in the street -- what happens? I think we'd all hope the kid would enlist the help of an older sibling or parent when it comes to retrieval, but that doesn't always happen.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:07 AM on November 29, 2007


(oh, and p.s. to Don Pepino -- yeah, the neighbor knows not to give her anything if she does a runner -- she doesn't care, she'll do it anyway, operating on the If I Charm Them Enough, They Will Totally Give Me A Treat principle my mother taught her. So really, my mom's the one who needs the spanking, all things considered).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:09 AM on November 29, 2007


Point being, agregoli, she doesn't need to be on a leash when she's in her own yard, and she's perfectly trained until it comes down to spotting OMG TREAT GUY.

Apparantly she does need to be contained if you cannot trust her not to run toward the OMG TREAT GUY without hitting her. You chose the poorer training method, that's all. The fact that it works doesn't make it superior to other forms of discipline, or that you weren't lazy to use it.
posted by agregoli at 9:13 AM on November 29, 2007


bradth27: I ended up with an 8 year-old son that talked back, made rude comments at the table, slapped people in the face, and generally had no respect at all for his parents or anyone else.

Heh, that sounds a lot like me when I was little. Undiagnosed ADD too. I was a terror. I was rude, I hit people (adults, mostly) because I thought it was funny, I was completely impulsive, an unrestrained Id at times. I got spanked for the worst of my deeds, and light smacks over the back of my head that acted as reminders to keep in line when I was beginning to act up and verbal commands did nothing. I can tell you that when I get smacked, I deserved it, and overall I'd say it did a pretty good job of keeping me in line.

One side effect I've noticed is that to this day, years and years later, I still sometimes flinch if my dad's hand raises up suddenly, perhaps to reach across to get something at the dinner table, usually if I've just made some smartass comment. And that's just sad. So I'm not sure where I stand. Did I know the consequences of acting up as a child? Yes. Did I do it anyway? Yes. Is it a great solution? Probably not. I can't tell you what I'll do if/when I have kids, but odds are I'll try and exhaust all alternatives before resorting to smacking them.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 9:13 AM on November 29, 2007


Interesting how physical harm is always considered the worst, especially in cases with no lasting damage. Me, I'd rather someone punch me in the gut than, say, lie to me.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:20 AM on November 29, 2007


Never spanked the kids. Always felt it would be an admission that they were smarter than me. - They were and are. But I wasn't about to admit it back then.
posted by notreally at 9:23 AM on November 29, 2007


You can still train a dog even if it has an incorrigible grandmother. Your dog just needed enough repetitions to learn that the neighbor doesn't work like her grandma. My mom's dogs used to yap incessantly to be let into the house from the yard whenever anybody drove up into the driveway. Over a period of about two weeks I caused them to cease doing this by appearing and walking toward the fence as if to let them inside the house, which in early days caused a volley of barks and wild leaping around, upon which I'd turn around and march back into the house. I repeated this a million times, turning my back and walking away at the first yip and they graaaadually figured it out until one day there came the glorious moment when both dogs and I could stroll in polite, companionable silence into the house. Evil genius Weevil, a terrior mix, figured it out in about a day, but since he was saddled with Skeeter, an imbecile lab, he was forced to sit silent staring at my retreating back and listening to Skeeter bark and bark and bark for days. Interestingly, Weevil never turned on the yapping Skeeter and tore his throat out. At least Weevil got a taste of his own medicine. He learned what it is to suffer from someody else's mindless and incessant barking.

Our triumph was bittersweet, though: even after I had them impeccably trained not to torture me, the dogs would still bark like maniacs to be let into the house whenever they saw my mother's car pull up in the driveway. And no matter how I beat my supremely obstinate mom, I could not make her quit letting the dogs inside when they barked.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:40 AM on November 29, 2007


Apparantly she does need to be contained if you cannot trust her not to run toward the OMG TREAT GUY without hitting her. You chose the poorer training method, that's all. The fact that it works doesn't make it superior to other forms of discipline, or that you weren't lazy to use it.

Word. Dog or child, it's sad that anyone feels they have to employ violence to stop a behaviour which is caused by simple mismanagement and lack of knowledge of normal age-stage/species behaviour and how to change it.
posted by biscotti at 9:59 AM on November 29, 2007


Moms are like that, Don Pepino. The dachshund's got mine trained to open cupboards for her until she finds something she likes.

Yes. The dog has trained my mother.

It's sad and hilarious all at the same time. My mother, in her fifties, operating as the opposable thumbs for my dog. I tell her not to do it but she (mom) won't listen.

and p.s. to agregoli, I don't hit her now. I don't have to. The first two swats did the trick. Now she waits patiently at the end of the sidewalk to be escorted across the street for her treat. And we're not talking a beating, we're talking a swat to the butt. A much gentler one than I would have gotten as a kid for doing the same thing.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:03 AM on November 29, 2007


One more p.s. to agregoli:

You chose the poorer training method, that's all. The fact that it works doesn't make it superior to other forms of discipline, or that you weren't lazy to use it.

I wasn't too lazy to use another method, I DID use several other methods (getting the neighbor to not give her treats when she did it, putting her inside the second she tried to do the bad behavior, etc). Many, many times. It simply did not work. And if you read the anecdote above about her + the trashcan, well, you'll find she knows damn well when what she's doing is wrong, she just doesn't care unless she gets caught.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:07 AM on November 29, 2007


I'm not trying to make you uncomfortable, bitter-girl, and I never indicated in any way that you were beating your dog, only that hitting your dog is completely unnecessary and a lazy move on your part (there are better solutions). You ARE smarter than your dog and capable of using something besides hitting to get your point across.
posted by agregoli at 10:10 AM on November 29, 2007


I wasn't too lazy to use another method, I DID use several other methods (getting the neighbor to not give her treats when she did it, putting her inside the second she tried to do the bad behavior, etc). Many, many times. It simply did not work.

The first method you describe has nothing to do with disciplining your dog, it has to do with changing the behavior of your neighbor. I'm still wondering why leash training was not an option, for starters. If your dog runs away from you even when giving voice commands, it sounds like she needs to be prevented from running away until she gets it.

And the fact that training methods you tried did not work doesn't mean that the go-to move should be a smack.

And if you read the anecdote above about her + the trashcan, well, you'll find she knows damn well when what she's doing is wrong, she just doesn't care unless she gets caught.

This is just the same rationalization parents use for hitting kids. And it doesn't make sense for either application - you are capable of doing better than resorting to violence. I stand by my statement that it's the lazy option.
posted by agregoli at 10:14 AM on November 29, 2007


Bitter-girl— When dealing with dogs, I've found a shake can to be infinitely superior to hitting them. Even dumb dogs understand the shake can (and I've had a dachshund/spaniel mix).

So, yes, you did use a less than ideal method.
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on November 29, 2007


Dogs are not moral agents in any way meaningful to humans, so dogs do not understand "wrong" the way you are using it in your trashcan description. Dogs repeat behaviour which works, your dog had been reinforced by running to the neighbour enough times that that behaviour became trained-in. So again, the problem is one of mismanagement and a lack of understanding of behaviour and behaviour modification (incidentally, ignorance of normal age-stage behaviour and its modification is one of the acknowledged risk factors for abusive behaviour toward children).

Every dog has something they will break training and brave pain for, assuming that you have "trained" your dog by smacking her and that she will not run across the street again is asking for a mashed Dachshund. Physical restraint is a far more appropriate management method than smacking and then setting the dog up for further failure by not changing the way you manage the dog.

The fact that you were not willing to research other ways to deal with this problem with your dog, and already intend to hit your potential children (presumably without doing research into that either), is sad.
posted by biscotti at 10:44 AM on November 29, 2007


As a child and teenager, I was both spanked and slapped. The former is discipline, and the latter is abuse.
posted by Marquise at 10:45 AM on November 29, 2007


Up until an age that was older than I would probably like to remember, I had a problem in that I would cry/throw a tantrum when things didn't go my way (striking out in baseball, losing at some game, etc). I was spanked as punishment, but when I would be crying from some tantrum, my father would threaten me with giving me a "reason to cry." "Reasontocry" became a word to me that meant "really bad spanking."

Now, I don't think that any of the spankings or reasontocry's were really that bad. In fact, I am not even sure that the reasontocry's were actually any harder than the other spankings. But I feared the reasontocry's. It struck me at the time as a strange thing to do to punish someone for crying.

As an adult, it strikes me as stranger even still.
posted by flarbuse at 10:46 AM on November 29, 2007


Furthermore, kids who are spanked somehow seem not to learn their lesson, have you noticed that? You would think that a kid would need to be spanked only once ever and they would get the message not to cross mommy or daddy ever again. But somehow they don't get this message, isn't that a funny thing? Why do you think that is?

Not true in all cases, I can tell you that. As a child, I was spanked for a number of things - and believe me, I NEVER did it again.

Same with my own child. He was wild and uncontrollable, and had figured out that he could do pretty much anything and get away with it.... with no real consequence to speak of, other than being grounded, or having time out, or whatever.... as soon as I started to spank him for each instance - he quit.

And now he exhibits none of his previous behaviour, and I am often told that my child is an exceptionally well-behaved child.

I do not spank him without reason, nor do I recieve any thrill out of hitting him. He has, however, learned that his actions are not without consequence.
posted by bradth27 at 11:00 AM on November 29, 2007


Take some time out of your day today to hit a kid. It may save them from death!
posted by everichon at 11:10 AM on November 29, 2007


I was hit as a kid, not in any way that would have been considered abusive as a child. My dad was so skilled that more often than not it didn't even come to actual violence, I just developed a chronic fear of him.

So I learned to lie and disinform and conceal, really, really well.
posted by everichon at 11:13 AM on November 29, 2007


I do not spank him without reason, nor do I recieve any thrill out of hitting him. He has, however, learned that his actions are not without consequence.

The point isn't that someone spanks without reason (most parents have a reason), or that you get a "thrill" out of hitting him (where was that even mentioned in here?) The point is that it's sad that an adult, whose mental capacity is far greater than a child's, resorted to physical violence instead of being consistant with any other type of discipline. No one said it would be easy to discipline children - hitting a child is, however, the "easy way out."

Has anyone who has used other methods of discipline and then turned to corporal punishment studied the effects? Seen any research on the subject? Or is it a "last resort" idea chosen in frustration? Several parents here have mentioned that they tried other things, but "nothing worked" (How long did you try each method? How many did you try? Were you consistant with each one? Are you familiar with the mental reasoning level of your child at the age they were at?) and THEN they tried spanking. And it worked! So spanking it is!

But the fact that something works does not mean it's ideal. I know that parenting is hard, and I've read a lot of "you won't understand unless you're a parent" comments in other discussions about these topics, but that is not an excuse. I'd really like to see a more reasoned explanation of WHY this is the best option, not just, "We tried it and it worked!" Is that the only goal, that the child stops misbehaving? I think that the method of teaching consequences HAS to matter as much as the learning of those consequences. How could it not?
posted by agregoli at 11:33 AM on November 29, 2007


everichon - that is exactly what happened to me.

i'm not sure how i feel about spanking, honestly, but i do know that it instilled a fear in me of getting caught but not necessarily a fear of the actual "naughty" act.

making my mom cry, on the other hand, was a surprisingly effective (and humiliating) lesson to not-do-that-thing-again.
posted by lunit at 11:38 AM on November 29, 2007


Furthermore, kids who are spanked somehow seem not to learn their lesson, have you noticed that? ...

Nope. I have noticed that children whose parents don't discipline them generally act like maniacs. Now, you can discipline a kid by beating their ass, but as others have pointed out this isn't the only way. That said, from my experience, most of the kids I've met who are dicks have parents who don't spank them.
posted by chunking express at 11:40 AM on November 29, 2007


As someone who is a parent, has successfully brought a child past the age of 2 (those pesky electrical oulets) and been both spanked and beaten by adults...
There is never, under any circumstances a reason to hit a child. We call it spanking to make ourselves feel better. It's violent, it's a power trip and it's because the parent can't get a grip and control themelves.It boils down to being an adult temper tantrum with far reaching consequences.

If you have to resort to hitting your kids, get some other ideas because it will come back to haunt you in some way--shrink bills, hatred, anger, or something possibly worse. Maybe it will just be that your kids spank their kids. Great legacy.

And hey..my child is WAY more willful and intense than I was. But gee, I've never "had to" hit her. It's called consistency and consequences--but not violence.
posted by pywacket at 11:48 AM on November 29, 2007


"i'm not sure how i feel about spanking, honestly, but i do know that it instilled a fear in me of getting caught but not necessarily a fear of the actual "naughty" act."

How is this different from other naughty acts? The aim as a kid is always not to get caught, no matter what the punishment. If you don't care about the punishment, it is, by definition, ineffective.

I agree with agregoli that the method of teaching consequences is important. Perhaps smacking does represent a failure of parenting, but equally so does an inability to explain as a child gets older why forms of punishment change.

I'm also interested that it seems nearly unanimous that a smack on the bum is the worst possible punishment available to give to a child. Maybe I was too fond of fishfingers but I recall being sent to bed without dinner was pretty miserable.
posted by patricio at 11:49 AM on November 29, 2007


i'm not sure how i feel about spanking, honestly, but i do know that it instilled a fear in me of getting caught but not necessarily a fear of the actual "naughty" act.

"Not getting caught" is a very important skill to have. (especially in a society where more and more people are criminalized.) You should be thankful. "Not being caught" means your behavior didn't bother anyone, and "not bothering anyone" is a good definition of polite behavior. This is not the same as moral behavior, but they're both important.

My one year in the college dorms, when they told us not to drink or take drugs they pointed out that those with such offenses on their record were more likely to be on academic probation or fail out of the school. They put this forth as evidence that drinking was a "naughty act" which would instantly rot our brains and so forth. In reality, everyone who wanted to do so drank in the dorms, but the ones who were smart enough to do well in school also tended to be smart enough not to get caught.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:54 PM on November 29, 2007


Sometimes I like going to bed without dinner. I like to wake up ravenous the next morning and eat something great like donuts and a pound of bacon. This source of enjoyment would have been forever taken from me had I been sent to bed without dinner as punishment for misdeeds as a child... Instead I was sent to my room and made to clean it. And that's why to this day my house is a sty. Punishment in general is stupid and ineffective.

Slapping kids to keep them safe from cars and electrocution won't. The parent grabs the kid by the arm and yells, "Jesus christ you scared the crap out of me! Don't you! Ever! Do that! Again!" Swat swat swatta swat. Which teaches the child the valuable lesson, "Never approach the fascinating street/mysterious electrical outlet when ol' scaredy freakoutpants is around to see." The lesson is not improved any if the parent, having decided that it's wrong to hit the child in wrath, deliberately calms down and then administers the blows calmly and judicously while preaching in measured tones about the dangers of the street. Then it's more like, "Don't go near the street when ol' disturbingly robotic psychopathic tendenciespants is around and furthermore resolve to run away from home at the earliest opportunity, have a hideously brutal life on the streets and write a tell-all memoir about it, ruining parents' lives forever."

This is the major flaw with smacking a dog to keep it out of the street, too. You think you control the child or the dog. Actually, the child controls the child. The dog controls the dog. It may be irritating, but it's a fact: they are autonomous beings. It's appealing to imagine yourself always there to administer the rod and protect them, but that's a dangerous fantasy. You will not always be there, so it's kinder and more practical to teach them to protect themselves. You want the child or the dog to act right whether you're there or not. If you spend all your time teaching them to fear your wrath, you risk failing them in a major way.

Oh, alcohol is a fantastic example. If you can get the child to not get drunk 'til its brain is fully formed rather than spending all your efforts scaring it into not bothering you with its drinking, the child will be much less likely to wreck itself. Remaining blithely unaware that your child is drinking too early in life in the bingey way people drink when they know they're being "naughty" is a fantastic, slo-mo, way more painful, way more expensive, way more destructive, completely heartbreaking way to be complicit in your kid's suicide. It would be better to just show them some busy streets and electrical sockets and be done with it.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:16 PM on November 29, 2007


The fact that you were not willing to research other ways to deal with this problem with your dog, and already intend to hit your potential children (presumably without doing research into that either), is sad.

Incorrect, and incorrect.

I have done the research, and I have trained her using positive reinforcements her entire life but even as you yourself admit, there are things that a dog will break training for. So, when the dog breaks training and puts herself in danger, I know, let's have a great big sit-down with her and review all the positive and neutral training methods that have been used over the course of her nine years on this earth. Let's put her in a time out. Let's go tie her up in the backyard and leave her there to think about her actions (something I don't do and never have, she's always under supervision outside). Let's neglect to give her a treat. Let's not let her on the couch tonight.

IT DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK.

Like I discovered when I ran away from my mom as a kid and smacked myself into a tile wall (she was attempting the horrible sin of hairbrushing) -- despite being told not to, trained not to, reasoned with not to run away during hairbrushing -- sometimes it happens anyway. And that ouchie stuck with me a hell of a lot longer than the two one-second swats on the butt (separate occasions) with the dog did. Yet she stays on her side of the street now.

It's not that I'm looking forward to spanking my children, I'm saying it happens, it was done to both my boyfriend and I as children, we're none the worse for it and I don't see the problem. There is a BIG line between spanking and child abuse, and I think you are lessening the stigma of actual child abuse when you conflate spanking into that category.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:01 PM on November 29, 2007


If spanking's to be made illegal, what's the right punishment for a mother who gives her kid a few swats on the ass? A little fine, like a parking violation, because it's a minor thing? A jail term for mom, and the kids put into protective custody, because it's a major thing? In Sweden, says the article, mom goes to jail.
posted by pracowity at 2:14 PM on November 29, 2007


The point is that it's sad that an adult, whose mental capacity is far greater than a child's, resorted to physical violence instead of being consistant with any other type of discipline. No one said it would be easy to discipline children - hitting a child is, however, the "easy way out."

It's not sad (in my opinion,) I was consistent with other forms of discipline that did not work, and hitting a child is not the easy way out.

If you have a better argument, I will discuss. Otherwise, it's just your opinion against mine. Since it is my child, and I am the one who knows what happened with my own child - and what worked and what did not - I am certainly in the right to say that the type of discipline that I used was the "right one."
posted by bradth27 at 2:15 PM on November 29, 2007


IT DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK.

Once again, why is that a justification for using a physical punishment? Simply because the hitting has worked (for now) doesn't make it superior to other training methods.
posted by agregoli at 2:15 PM on November 29, 2007


It's not sad (in my opinion,) I was consistent with other forms of discipline that did not work, and hitting a child is not the easy way out.

Did you do any research on discipline methods? Why was corporal punishment decided upon - was it a last resort or simply another thing to try?

If you have a better argument, I will discuss. Otherwise, it's just your opinion against mine. Since it is my child, and I am the one who knows what happened with my own child - and what worked and what did not - I am certainly in the right to say that the type of discipline that I used was the "right one."

I'm chuckling over here that you've decided on the old "parental authority" argument that you know what's best so obviously it's best. I'm looking for a REAL reason as to why physical punishment is justified. What is the justification? That it worked? Why is that enough?

The method of discipline HAS to matter as much as the result. The most important thing isn't just that the child behaved - it's also how YOU behaved to get the child to that point. And there are definitely better ways to do it, yes, in my opinion (what else are we talking about here?), than striking a child. As an adult, you are smarter and capable of far more than hitting a child to get the result you want. I can't see it as anything more than a frustrated cop-out of doing the work required to get a child to understand the consequences of their actions.
posted by agregoli at 2:20 PM on November 29, 2007


(In case anyone thinks I'm being unsympathetic, I am VERY sympathetic to exactly HOW much work it is to discipline and care for children. It's enormous. It can't be overstated, really, how incredibly draining and tiring and awful and frustrating it can be. I'm still looking for a more reasoned discussion from corporal punishment parents as to why they chose such a method instead of simply, "it worked." Why was it chosen? What other things were tried? I'm not trying to set up a huge argument here where I take a morally higher position, honestly. I'm honestly trying to get a better explanation from the other side as to why this is a superior method of discipline in their eyes. Maybe this isn't the discussion anyone else wants to have though, and that's fine too. =)
posted by agregoli at 2:30 PM on November 29, 2007


Once again, why is that a justification for using a physical punishment? Simply because the hitting has worked (for now) doesn't make it superior to other training methods.

I never said it was superior (for dogs or for human children). What I have said is that the positive reinforcements usually used which did not work in this situation did not work.

So, barring some major technological development that allows us to speak to dogs in their own language using the sort of reasoning one uses with human children who are old enough to hear and comply with spoken requests, I'm putting it down in the "it worked" column because she hasn't done it again and in fact, is doing what I had tried to train her to do using positive reinforcement, namely sit at the end of the sidewalk and wait for someone to escort her across the street.

I'm looking for a REAL reason as to why physical punishment is justified. What is the justification? That it worked? Why is that enough?

That it not only worked, but in my case prevented (and continues to prevent) my dog from doing something much, much worse and much more dangerous to her health. Since I don't currently have human children I can't insert a justification here, but I would imagine "a spanking is better than burning your hand off on the stove and getting put into foster care" is probably a good one.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:52 PM on November 29, 2007


I never said it was superior (for dogs or for human children). What I have said is that the positive reinforcements usually used which did not work in this situation did not work.

I still see it as an issue of convenience to some extent though - wasn't it more convenient for you to hit your dog to make it mind instead of keeping her on a leash until she minded you, or at least keeping her on a leash because that would control her so she couldn't go into the street?

I understand that since you don't have any qualms about using corporal punishment on the dog, it isn't a big deal to you, so avoiding it at all costs isn't in your mind. Which I get.

But why wasn't hitting the dog to get it to listen to you the go to move, the first thing you tried? Was it because you wanted to avoid hitting your dog initially? If that's so, why was that position abandoned? It sounds like it was abandoned because of frustration with other training methods.
posted by agregoli at 3:00 PM on November 29, 2007


Since I don't currently have human children I can't insert a justification here, but I would imagine "a spanking is better than burning your hand off on the stove and getting put into foster care" is probably a good one.

No one can argue that a spanking is better than that. But what's even BETTER than those two options is actually understanding the child's development level, and trying techniques for making them understand consequences. I don't think that this work or understanding is innate, parents have to work at it and be patient and learn some techniques with dealing with the behaviors. Some parents do this work and some don't. I'm certain that some don't see the utility in using it, or don't have the patience, etc. Of course we all have different opinions and no one ever said there was a RIGHT way to parent completely. But spanking IS easy. It doesn't require any thought, any work, any attempt to teach the child anything but, "if you do this, you will hurt because I will make you hurt." Which teaches absolute authority but not much else, in my view. I think that more can be gained through other methods.
posted by agregoli at 3:05 PM on November 29, 2007


It's pretty interesting how most of the people who are arguing that spanking is always inappropriate do not appear to be parents. (I did say most, not all).
posted by caddis at 3:21 PM on November 29, 2007


caddis, to me that's just another iteration of the "you're not a parent so you don't understand" argument, which is condescending at best and invalidating at worst. If one has to be a member of a group to have an opinion on a practice, then most of the discussions at metafilter involve people who have no business voicing their opinion.
posted by agregoli at 3:23 PM on November 29, 2007


I think it would be interesting to get a perspective from the viewpoint of another culture. It's my understanding that ethnic Chinese families often use corporal punishment. (If I'm mistaken here, please correct me. :-) I wonder if anyone here would be willing to address this from a Chinese perspective? I'm genuinely curious to know how this discussion sounds to someone who grew up in a Chinese family. For example, does spanking strike you as "barbaric"?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 3:40 PM on November 29, 2007


Spanking your kids? That's a paddlin'.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:59 PM on November 29, 2007


See, Crabby Appleton, that's exactly it. I was spanked as a child, and here I am, a fully-grown, functioning member of society, without some deep-seated horrible emotional problem about it. Then I look at the generation immediately after me, the so-called Generation Y, the ones raised with all this timeout bullshit and "use your words" and all that -- many of them are a complete mess.

So many of them won't respond to anything other than complete and absolute praise for their activities, they have no concept of negative consequences because they were raised to believe they are the king or queen of their own universe, and they're turning around to raise the kind of children that would have made my family and neighbors cringe when I was a kid. My dog is smarter than that.

Was it because you wanted to avoid hitting your dog initially? If that's so, why was that position abandoned? It sounds like it was abandoned because of frustration with other training methods.

No, it was was abandoned at that time because at the moment she decided to break training and endanger herself, she needed to know that there would be swift and immediate punishment for her bad action. Dogs cannot be reasoned with and given time-outs. You can train them using positive reinforcement all you like -- and I have -- but dogs can and do break training. And this wasn't a question of training a puppy. She's nine. She's pretty consistent in her behavior and has been her entire life. Dare I say it? She's predictable. She can be walked without a leash, no problem -- she obeys voice commands, no problem.

Of course she could have been on a leash the day she got spanked. I'm not saying that wasn't an option. But having never needed one before under any similar circumstances, she wasn't on one. So she got punished, and now she doesn't do it anymore. I probably got spanked for running into the road, too, and guess what? I stopped. (Or we probably wouldn't be having this discussion).

Clearly we're never going to see eye to eye on this. But believe me -- this dog has a better life than most human children (She's got an ophthalmologist -- I need one, but I don't. She's undergone thousands of dollars' worth of dental work, surgery and everything else you can think of while I've put my own off. In short, she's spoiled rotten). Don't think she's some miserably abused dog. She's a dog who got punished for doing something wrong, and now she doesn't do it anymore. She is very much loved -- in the same way that my parents loved me, but punished me for my own good as a child.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:02 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


Did you do any research on discipline methods? Why was corporal punishment decided upon - was it a last resort or simply another thing to try?

It wasn't the last resort, although from the time he was able to understand punishment, he had been placed in "time-out." This led to being grounded, taking things away for specified periods of time, etc.... he quickly learned that this was really no big deal, and learned to ignore the punishment - and repeatedly committed the offense that the punishment was for.

Spanking once - for each offense - achieved satisfactory results. The problem here lies in the fact that I believe that spanking is perfectly justifiable in some situations - and you do not. No matter how often I state that he suffers no ill effects, is a great kid now, and a perfectly well-adjusted child, you will insist that he has been damaged in some way, or that my solution was a cop-out.

Not so.
posted by bradth27 at 4:12 PM on November 29, 2007


agregoli, it was just an observation. Of course, if you want me to play devil's advocate, non-parents opining on child rearing seems to me like guys telling girls how to handle their periods. ;)
posted by caddis at 5:20 PM on November 29, 2007


IT DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK

NOTHING always works, even the best-trained dogs in the world are not 100% obedient 100% of the time. Dogs (and kids) make up their own minds about what to do, if they're well-trained, they make up their minds in ways we approve of more often than not, but that's the best you can expect. Hitting doesn't change that.

Training, no matter how it's done, is not a substitute for proper management. As Don Pepino says, the ultimate control of the dog rests with the dog, unless you have physical restraint on the dog, believing that your smack has trained your dog such that she will never run into the street again is dangerous, because it has not.
posted by biscotti at 6:16 PM on November 29, 2007


As Don Pepino says, the ultimate control of the dog rests with the dog, unless you have physical restraint on the dog, believing that your smack has trained your dog such that she will never run into the street again is dangerous, because it has not.

Guess that depends upon how hard you smack 'em. As a former military dog trainer taught me, if you hit them hard enough, they will not do it again.

I once had a dog that kept climbing the fence in order to get at the neighbor's dogs..... so I put up a hot wire designed for cattle. After a single shock from that, the dog never got close to that fence again.

Even after I moved the fence, the dog never got close to where the fence originally was.

Seems he learned his lesson from one painful smack.
posted by bradth27 at 8:26 PM on November 29, 2007


Wowie kazowie do I not want to have children. Should I deviate from this perfectly rational wish, I expect swift disciplining of any number of types until one works.
posted by lumensimus at 9:12 PM on November 29, 2007


It's pretty interesting how most of the people who are arguing that spanking is always inappropriate do not appear to be parents. (I did say most, not all).

I'm a parent, perhaps not as experienced as some here (my oldest will be four in March) and I have never once even contemplated spanking, or any other type of physical discipline.

So many of them won't respond to anything other than complete and absolute praise for their activities, they have no concept of negative consequences because they were raised to believe they are the king or queen of their own universe, and they're turning around to raise the kind of children that would have made my family and neighbors cringe when I was a kid. My dog is smarter than that.

This to me (along with the idea that training dogs is even remotely akin to parenting) is what clearly marks the non-parents here. While your description accurately describes some children (and matches a few I know) I don't see how any of that relates back to hitting, or not hitting children. There's a list a mile long of parenting techniques, attitudes and methods of discipline that may or may not have been ignored or misunderstood that can contribute to such behavior before you'd even begin to discuss physical violence.

I was spanked as a child, and here I am, a fully-grown, functioning member of society, without some deep-seated horrible emotional problem about it.

I'm glad, but the connection you draw is something of a fallacy. If I'd been, say, left alone in the tub as a baby and managed to make it to adulthood, I'd still be way off base leaving my own 7-month old in the bath to go answer the phone or something.

I once had a dog that kept climbing the fence in order to get at the neighbor's dogs..... so I put up a hot wire designed for cattle. After a single shock from that, the dog never got close to that fence again.

Cattle? Jesus. I don't know you, and I don't really have any valid standing to criticize your parenting skills, and I know that my opinion and $2.13 gets me an extra large with cream and Splenda at the Dunkin Donuts, but I'll posit that your kids behave because they're deeply, deeply, terrified of you.
posted by jalexei at 9:52 PM on November 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


but I'll posit that your kids behave because they're deeply, deeply, terrified of you.

The neighbors kids too. How the hell do you think we keep them off our lawns?
posted by IronLizard at 10:12 PM on November 29, 2007


We might not all be parents but we were all children once.
posted by liquorice at 12:51 AM on November 30, 2007


I think it would be interesting to get a perspective from the viewpoint of another culture. It's my understanding that ethnic Chinese families often use corporal punishment. (If I'm mistaken here, please correct me. :-) I wonder if anyone here would be willing to address this from a Chinese perspective? I'm genuinely curious to know how this discussion sounds to someone who grew up in a Chinese family. For example, does spanking strike you as "barbaric"?

Not Chinese, but from another culture that happily accepts spanking children as a perfectly acceptable use of discipline. And yeah, it strikes me as barbaric and a cowardly way of parenting. I don't remember why I was spanked but I remember it hurt and I remember how terrified I was of my parents and how I wondered why these people that I looked to most for protection were hurting me so much. I turned to inflicting self-torture as a teenager when I was afraid of disappointing my parents for something I may have done wrong. And then I turned to the lying/concealing route and life has never been better! Oh, yeah, but I'm a generation Y'er so of course apparently all I ever got were time-outs and flowery praise and big fat generalisations.
posted by liquorice at 1:00 AM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are countless ways to be cruel, and punishments that don't use physical violence are usually cruel too. That's why they're punishments. Sometimes a poke or a swat is the least cruel option.

Perhaps bitter-girl.com would prefer you swatted at her a few times instead of belittling her in dozens of comments?
posted by blasdelf at 1:06 AM on November 30, 2007


Cattle? Jesus. I don't know you, and I don't really have any valid standing to criticize your parenting skills, and I know that my opinion and $2.13 gets me an extra large with cream and Splenda at the Dunkin Donuts, but I'll posit that your kids behave because they're deeply, deeply, terrified of you.

I never said I used the cattle wire on my kids - just on a dog. Once. He got the point.

As for my children - the spankings that I have given out in the past are mild at best. I received much, much worse at home and in school as a kid. And no, my son is not terrified of me - not at all. In fact, we spend most of my off time together, and he prefers to spend the weekend camping, fishing, shopping or just hanging out or whatever with me than staying with his friends.

Yeah, that will change as he becomes a teenager, and I become the "guy who's not cool." But for now, he's my best friend.
posted by bradth27 at 6:18 AM on November 30, 2007


Don't think she's some miserably abused dog.

No matter how often I state that he suffers no ill effects, is a great kid now, and a perfectly well-adjusted child, you will insist that he has been damaged in some way, or that my solution was a cop-out.


What interesting assumptions. Bitter-girl, I've explicitly stated I didn't think you were a dog abuser. And bradth27, yours is filled with much larger assumptions. You assume the "fight" is lost before it's begun, and that I'm insisting your son is damaged in some way (please tell me where I ever stated such a thing). I do believe your solution was not the best, yes. Again, you give me no reason to believe that it was anything other than a last resort. Why was hitting your son not the first thing you tried? I'm honestly asking.

Also, no one has any insight into how it has affected your son, except your son. And likely to get a real opinion on that, we'd need to talk to him after he's become an adult, like the other people here. That doesn't mean I'm SURE he's damaged, or even that he's likely to have problems.

The only point I'm making is that just because something "works" doesn't make it the perfect solution. And I haven't seen anyone be able to defend it on any grounds except "it works." Is that the only goal for disciplining a child? What did the child really learn compared to another method? I think people have made extremely valid points in this thread from their own experiences and what being spanked taught them, even if it is anecdotal evidence (I acknowledge that many people were spanked and are fine with it too). Would the lessons be different if a parent hadn't resorted to the easy, no-effort tactic of spanking? I believe that they would be.

agregoli, it was just an observation. Of course, if you want me to play devil's advocate, non-parents opining on child rearing seems to me like guys telling girls how to handle their periods.

Oh please. So my opinion in a discussion about anything relating to parenting means nothing because I'm not a parent. I guess my opinion about abortion means nothing because I've never had one. It annoys me that this is the trump card that ALWAYS gets pulled out, no matter what.

The difference is this - someone can care for children and not be a parent! A guy cannot somehow vicariously experience a period. So your analogy is ridiculous to me.

This to me (along with the idea that training dogs is even remotely akin to parenting) is what clearly marks the non-parents here.

These have been two entirely separate discussions in one thread. They both relate to corporal punishment and no one has been comparing training dogs and training kids.
posted by agregoli at 6:47 AM on November 30, 2007


Oh please. So my opinion in a discussion about anything relating to parenting means nothing because I'm not a parent.

Nothing was your word. You just speak about which you have no experience (and having once been a child is not really very relevant experience so don't go there). Anyway, why does everything have to be so black and white with you?
posted by caddis at 7:01 AM on November 30, 2007


I'm not sure what you mean with your comment about everything being black and white with me. I don't think I think that way at all.

How are you so sure I have no experience disciplining and raising children?
posted by agregoli at 7:15 AM on November 30, 2007


no one has been comparing training dogs and training kids

I believe I made that comparison. And it's a valid one, many behaviour modification theories apply across species, and whether people like it or not, many of the methods which work on dogs work on kids (and adults, for that matter). Operant conditioning works on anything which is capable of self-initiated movement, from fish to politicians. Ignorance of and/or taking offence at this comparison is what marks those unaware of the actual scientific research into behaviour.

Perhaps bitter-girl.com would prefer you swatted at her a few times instead of belittling her in dozens of comments?

Oh please. Disagreement with her methods and rationale for using them is not "belittling" her. She's a big girl and can obviously take care of herself.
posted by biscotti at 7:21 AM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I never said I used the cattle wire on my kids - just on a dog. Once. He got the point.

I know, I just found it indicative of choices you've made that make me shudder a bit - but again, just my opinion, yada yada - Of my many character flaws, the inability to acknowledge being wrong (were I ever to meet you or your children) is not one of them.

no one has been comparing training dogs and training kids

My original comment was less a direct rebuttal to anyone here and more indicative of the whole spectrum of variants I hear on the "we don't have kids, but we have a dog" from (well meaning) folks equating things that are not equatable. Certainly specific methods of discipline and behavioral modification are comparable.
posted by jalexei at 8:36 AM on November 30, 2007


liquorice, I think it sucks that your parents never explained why they were spanking you. That would be confusing and frightening. I appreciate your response, but without knowing which culture you were raised in it's difficult to know what to make of your single data point.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:08 AM on November 30, 2007


I once had a dog that kept climbing the fence in order to get at the neighbor's dogs..... so I put up a hot wire designed for cattle. After a single shock from that, the dog never got close to that fence again.

...

Seems he learned his lesson from one painful smack.


No, he didn't--if you'll re-read your comment you will see that he didn't get a smack. What happened was, he learned not to mess with the fence because he got one painful shock from the fence. If he'd had one painful smack from you, he'd've learned not to mess with you. He'd have gone on climbing the fence when you weren't around.

Bitter-girl.com, the dog won't run across the street when you're there because it's learned that's how to get smacked. It might still run across the street when you're not there, which would suck--you have a lot invested in this dachsund. So here's something you could do that would keep the dog safe and be really fun besides:

You have to enlist the help of the neighbor and an alternate, non-you trainer... hmmm... who in this world cares enough about the dog to invest an afternoon... Hey! I nominate stubborn Mom!

Choose a quiet time of the day/week and block off the street with some traffic cones or something to alert motorists. Have the neighbor stand on his side of the street waving his fabulous treats in the air. You are far away--not on the property. Gone for hours. Maybe out of state. The dog ought to do its usual, o please o please dance (antics you could easily train it out of if at some time they cease to delight you, but that's a whole nother chapter, or perhaps another book. Walden III.) whereupon your mom lets the dog outside. When the dog, after a few nervous glances around, steps into the street, the neighbor immediately turns his back and goes inside with his treats. Mom retrieves the dog in a calm, chilly, un-grandmalike way--she doesn't talk to the dog or cuddle or slap it or do anything interesting--they go back inside, everybody waits a minute or two, neighbor reappears with treats and the whole process starts again. Repeat 7,000 times. For it to work the dog has to stay interested, so your mom needs to intersperse many approved-manner trips across the street where she carries the dog across or walks it on the leash, talking excitedly the whole time and administering the usual grandma cuddles, and the neighbor acts completely delighted and showers treats and they have a little party. The trip back across the road should be equally celebratory. By the end of the afternoon she should have the dog hating the whole idea of approaching the street unaccompanied. Street by myself=no treats and no love should be branded upon its brain for all time.

If only it were this easy to devise a plan to keep the adolescents off the hootch. Dogs =/ kids; that is for sure.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:11 AM on November 30, 2007


PS:
It's a waste of time and an exercise in frustration to "put her in a time out" or "not let her on the couch tonight." The dog can't make the connection between her crime and the punishment for it unless they occur simultaneously (like the electric fence). She can't "think about her actions." This stuff might work on a child but not on a dog, however much it appears to "think it's a person." It's an animal with a brain the size of a kumquat--it can't reason. It CAN learn, though the behaviorists writhe and shriek when you use that word for it.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:32 AM on November 30, 2007


No, he didn't--if you'll re-read your comment you will see that he didn't get a smack. What happened was, he learned not to mess with the fence because he got one painful shock from the fence. If he'd had one painful smack from you, he'd've learned not to mess with you. He'd have gone on climbing the fence when you weren't around.

Yeah whatever. We never had unwanted puppies after that, so the punishment worked.
posted by bradth27 at 6:33 AM on December 1, 2007


It seems that the end DOES justify the means to the corporal punishment users.
posted by agregoli at 7:56 AM on December 3, 2007


(I'm also left wondering why bradth27's dog isn't fixed...)
posted by agregoli at 7:56 AM on December 3, 2007


'Fixed' = castration. How terribly ironic.
posted by IronLizard at 8:53 AM on December 3, 2007


And why would that be ironic?
posted by agregoli at 11:11 AM on December 3, 2007


D.P.: No, he didn't get a smack, he got a shock from the fence. If he'd had a smack from you, he'd've gone on climbing the fence when you weren't around.

Bradth27: Yeah whatever. We never had unwanted puppies after that, so the punishment worked.


What we see here is called extinction. Bradth27 is ramping up his "I can't hear you" act in an attempt to get what he wants. If there were some way to keep him here in the training zone, bradth27 would continue to escalate, escalate, escalate trying to get what he's accustomed to (either "Yes, bradth27, U.R. right, slapping ur dog is a doubleplusyes" or "Bradth27 MORAN!"). Either of these responses would reinforce bradth27's accustomed behavior --> reward strategy (talk about smacking dog--> get responses that make you feel smart/practical/no-bullshit-standup-guy feelings). Only a consistent denial of expected response will allow us to shape up new behavior in bradth27.

Bradth27, punishment that is directly caused by and occurs simultaneously with the punished behavior--like an electric fence--is smart/practical/nobullshit common sense. Smacking is not in the same category as your electric fence. Smacking is not directly caused by behavior and it's not delivered simultaneous with behavior, so it fulfills neither of the requirements for effective punishment. Smacking is not smart or practical. It defies common sense. It is a good example of bullshit. Smacking will not work. Smacking will fail. Smacking is not effective. You are wrong about smacking. Reconsider recommending smacking, bradth27.
posted by Don Pepino at 3:07 PM on December 3, 2007


And why would that be ironic?

Seriously? Oh I get it, it's performance art.
posted by IronLizard at 10:23 PM on December 3, 2007


Yes, seriously. I see nothing ironic about that, unless you're going to equate sterilizing your pets with punishment of some kind, which I personally find completely ridiculous.
posted by agregoli at 7:32 AM on December 4, 2007


I'm not calling it punishment, but using the word 'fixed' to describe the removal of an animals ability to procreate (breaking it, as it were) has a very odd vibe to it.
posted by IronLizard at 8:22 AM on December 4, 2007


Oh, man. Well, if we're going to go that route, then:

Once you've broken an animal to the degree you have to break an animal in order to cohabitate with it, you've crimed against nature thoroughly. You've already smashed the animalness of the animal into bits making a pet of it. You therefore might as well go on and break its reproductive system, too. At least then you won't be responsible for bringing more puptomatons into the world to live forever captive under the heel of human hegemony and never achieve the true dogness that is natural to them.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:25 AM on December 4, 2007


Fair enough, IronLizard, but you read a lot into a term when I was simply too lazy to type "neutered." I agree it's weird terminology.
posted by agregoli at 11:04 AM on December 4, 2007


I wasn't really reading anything into your specific use of it so much as commenting on the usage of the term in general.

puptomatons into the world to live forever captive under the heel of human hegemony and never achieve the true dogness that is natural to them.

lolz

We went from spanking kids to the human domination of the once autonomous canine species. FREE FIDO! VIVA LA SPARKY! Did you know they once had a fairly sophisticated communications network known only as FidoNet? It's true.
posted by IronLizard at 7:27 PM on December 4, 2007


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