Tuesday, November 15, 2011

do you hit your kids?

I found myself giving Turtle a spank on his ridiculously padded cloth diaper behind. I immediately felt bad. I should start by saying that I was spanked as a child. I think most of us in my generation were. We remember it, some say we're scarred by it.

For the record, I don't think I am scarred by it. My parents were not and are not evil. And a spanking like what I got as a child is different than a beating like the one that prompted the CNN appearance of a woman who filmed her father doling out her punishment. But, I've made a decision that it's not for us.

It's going to be harder than I thought because I was brought up being given a tap on the ass when I did something wrong. It is sort of ingrained in my muscle memory. But it's not impossible.

Kids are still hit with hands, belts, switches and paddles, said Elizabeth Gershoff , an associate professor of human development and family sciences at University of Texas, despite research that shows it doesn't model or teach behavior parents are looking for, that it damages trust between parent and children and that it can lead to increased aggression.
...it's hard to stop a discipline technique that's been passed down through generations.
"There hasn't been a sea change in attitude. Most Americans still think it's OK," Gershoff said. "There's a long history of physically punishing children. Part of it is that people don't want to second-guess their parents -- it's a judgment on them ... People joke about it. They assume you experienced it, too."
The article linked above is actually about Sweden. To those of you who think, "Sweden! Those effete softies, of course they don't spank," I say, "Shut up."

It is illegal to hit your child in Sweden. The law is simple.
Chapter 6, Section 1 of the Swedish Children and Parents Code: "Children are entitled to care, security and a good upbringing. Children are to be treated with respect for their person and individuality and may not be subjected to corporal punishment or any other humiliating treatment."
It passed almost unanimously.

The section carries no penalties -- assault cases are still governed by the criminal code, and the number of assault prosecutions hasn't increased, according to a report from the Swedish government and Save the Children Sweden. Instead, adults who hit a child can expect a swift response from Swedish social services, said Joan Durrant, a family social sciences professor at University of Manitoba.
"The police are not going to say, 'This parent should be charged,'" said Durrant, who has studied the effects of Sweden's ban for decades. "The police will say, 'What you did is not OK, I understand why it happened, but you need to know that's against the law, and here are the supports available to you.'"
Those supports might be access to parenting groups, child development information, children's health care or nurses that help childproof homes or offer advice.
It is typically Swedish.  There is no big government coming in and dictating your life.  Unless your life involves hitting your child.
"[Parents] couldn't understand how someone had the gall -- 'Who in the world can come in and tell me how I'm supposed to raise my child?' That's a very American idea. In Sweden, that would not be asked. It's everybody's responsibility."
And in the end, you must forget all questions of intent, did you do it out of frustration or a genuine desire to discipline, force, spanking with just an open hand or a belt or a switch - did you hit your child?  If you did, then there's your answer.  It's clear as a bell.

And, although it's a disciplinary measure passed down through generations, it's something I'm going working at avoiding.

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