The NFL star isn’t the only one. The practice of beating children lives on, buoyed by an organized, conservative Christian movement that promotes corporal punishment.
I wish I could say it was surprising to learn that Adrian Peterson, his lawyer, and his friends are all defending Peterson from allegations of child abuse by saying that Peterson’s choice to beat his 4-year-old son with a stick was nothing but an expression of love. Beating children this way can leave scars, both physical and mental, but the practice continues—and continues to be treated by many as normal—in no small part because there’s an organized, conservative Christian movement that continues to promote corporal punishment and even argues that attempts to stymie the practice are an assault on their religion.
Like Peterson, I grew up in rural Texas and can attest that yes, it’s more common than not for parents to beat their children with sticks, belts, and various kitchen implements, all in the name of “love.” (I personally was never hit this way, but my family was the exception, not the rule.) It’s not just in Texas, either, as 67 percent of parents admit to spanking their children. In fact, 19 states, including Texas, still allow corporal punishment in schools.
Most of the people who support spanking draw a distinction between “corporal punishment” and “child abuse,” but as the Peterson case shows, where people draw that line varies wildly. To make the situation worse, the Christian right has, for decades now, both heralded corporal punishment as the best way to discipline children and has resisted efforts to strengthen protections for children on the grounds that these violate “parental rights.”
This is why the United States, along with Somalia, is the only country in the world not to have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a document that outlines U.N. expectations for how governments are to handle the rights of children. The reason for the reluctance is simple: The Christian right won’t allow the Senate to ratify the Convention. There are many reasons for this, but a big one is fear that the Convention would force the government to outlaw spanking.
It is true that the Convention, according to UNICEF, gives children “the right to be protected from being hurt and mistreated, physically or mentally” and that “any form of discipline involving violence is unacceptable.” The Convention doesn’t go so far as to explicitly call on governments to outlaw spanking, but the wording does strongly advise against all hitting of children in favor of other forms of discipline.Spanking your child is a part of many people’s identities about what it is to be a Christian, which is why so many conservative Christians love to claim “spare the rod and spoil the child.”
“Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children” if the U.S. ratified the Conventions, argues the Christian right website Parental Rights, the primary resource fighting efforts to protect the rights of children.
The problem with “reasonable” is there’s no good definition of what counts as reasonable. It’s a phrase designed to call to mind a soft and painless swat on a toddler’s butt to get their attention, but in reality, what Christian conservatives define as “reasonable” is intended to cause pain and injury to children. Focus on the Family argues that any kind of spanking that does more than “sting” is too much, but even their supposedly “reasonable” approach allows for parents to “use a wooden spoon or some other appropriately sized paddle” and that it “ought to hurt” and should produce “a few tears and sniffles.”
The worst part is that Focus on the Family is restrained compared to other Christian conservative child-rearing advice. A more controversial but still popular book on child-rearing, To Train Up A Child by Michael and Debi Pearl, recommends that parents start spanking at 6 months old and use belts and plumbing tubes to beat children with. Unsurprisingly, considering the harsh attitude toward children on display, this book has turned up in a number of homes of parents accused of abusing children to death.
Christian conservatives defend the practice of spanking children, even with weapons, by saying that parents are not supposed to do so in anger. “You want to be calm, in control, and focused,” writes Chip Ingram of Focus on the Family, and that a parent who embraces corporal punishment “is not an angry, insensitive person with a big club and a vicious agenda.” This echoes a common refrain from parents to justify spanking, that they don’t do it in anger and they reserve it for serious infractions that require a lot of time and processing so the child doesn’t do it again.
Unfortunately, parents are overestimating their own abilities to keep it in check. Researchers at Southern Methodist University strapped audio recorders onto the arms of 33 mothers to see if and when they used spanking, and found that instead of retreating to a quiet space to calmly administer a spanking, mothers who spank are just hitting in anger and frustration. Kids got spanked for finger-sucking, messing with pages of a book, or getting out of a chair when they weren’t supposed to. Parents who spank say they do so around 18 times a year, but the SMU researchers found it was closer to 18 times a week.
“The recordings show that most parents responded either impulsively or emotionally, rather than being intentional with their discipline,” explained the lead researcher. This study was just of mothers who were smacking with their hands, but as the Peterson case shows, there’s reason to believe that parents who escalate to much more violent kinds of hitting are no more likely to hold back or temper their anger.
To make it all worse, there’s no reason to think spanking works. In the SMU study it was found that children lasted about 10 minutes after a smack before they started misbehaving again. Farther-reaching research shows that not only are spanked children not better behaved, they’re worse off for it, and that spanking is associated with more criminal and antisocial behavior as well as slower cognitive development.
Spanking doesn’t work to improve behavior. It’s hard for parents to regulate their spanking, so that it all too frequently turns into outright abuse. The line between “reasonable” spanking and abuse is hazy for even the best-intentioned parent. So why does the practice persist and why does the Christian right melt down at the mere hint of a suggestion that anyone would make it legally more difficult to beat your children?
A major part of the problem is that spanking your child is a part of many people’s identities about what it is to be a Christian, which is why so many conservative Christians love to claim “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Because of this, attempts to fix the problem and discourage spanking and even outright abuse are often regarded as attacks on their identities as Christians. Peterson’s own public statement, where he indicates that he was disciplined like this as a child and “the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I enjoyed as a man.” People feel, when you criticize spanking, that you are criticizing their families, their upbringing, and even their faith.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. As Peterson also said in his public statement, “There are other alternative ways of disciplining a child that may be more appropriate,” ways that don’t cause physical or mental harm, whether intended by the spanker or not. Christian conservatives have long argued that it’s totally possible to allow spanking while disallowing child abuse. Let’s hope this Adrian Peterson debacle shows that idea is much easier said than done.
With corporal punishment in the news recently (Adrian Peterson), it is no surprise that the biggest backers of spanking your child(ren) in the name of “love” and “discipline” (even to the point of extreme abuse) are Christian Conservatives.
Their influence is the primary reason why spanking is still allowed in schools in 19 states and why the US hasn’t ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
h/t: Amanda Marcotte at The Daily Beast
The law prohibits you from spanking your boss, your employee, your spouse, your best friend, or a stranger you walk past on the street.
GETTING SPANKED AS A CHILD MAKES PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO SUFFER FROM MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AS ADULTS
But in the United States, it’s still perfectly legal to spank your own children.
This is because state laws only define physical abuse as any “unreasonably” violent actions that leave a mark on a child. Spanking and other less severe types of physical punishment generally don’t count — and as a result, about 90 percent of American parents resort to spanking at one time or another.
Research, though, tells us that getting spanked as a child can leave a discernible mark on people: it makes people more likely to suffer from addiction, depression, and other mental health problems as adults. This is one reason why 37 countries have explicitly banned all physical punishment of children — even by parents — since 1979.
Even our own existing state laws generally define child abuse as “endangering a child’s physical or emotional health and development.” By this standard — and given what we’ve recently learned from research — any form of physical punishment violates children’s rights, whether it’s done by a teacher or parents.
Over the past century, we’ve gradually expanded the legal rights of children to protect against physical abuse, with the state recognizing a responsibility to curtail parents’ rights in this area. Here’s the case for why we should extend this to ban all forms of physical punishment, including spanking.
Spanking isn’t effective
There’s a reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics — along with most leading psychologists — strongly recommend that parents do not spank their children: research shows it’s an especially ineffective form of punishment.
MOST PSYCHOLOGISTS STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST SPANKING
Spanking may temporarily force a child to stop doing something wrong, but it’s not a long term solution. “Hitting a child only results in fear and obedience,” says Karin Österman, a developmental psychologist who’s conducted research into the effects of physical punishment. “It does not enhance the child’s understanding of why a certain behavior is undesirable.”
It also communicates that violence is an appropriate way of dealing with a problem. As a result, research shows,children that are spanked become more likely to get into fights with peers and engage in antisocial behavior.
Of course, just because a punishment isn’t effective doesn’t mean that it should be outlawed. But other recent research provides a compelling reason why it should:
Spanking causes real, long-term damage
Researchers have long known that more severe child abuse leads to long-term mental problems. Obviously, the physical pain kids experience immediately makes abuse unacceptable, but the way it makes them more likely to suffer from depression, PTSD, addiction problems, and other mental disorders as adults is equally troubling.
Spanking may not cause the same sort of instant physical harm — but research increasingly indicates it leads to the same type of long-term mental damage.
PEOPLE WHO ARE SPANKED ARE MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT CRIMES, ABUSE THEIR SPOUSES, AND ATTEMPT SUICIDE AS ADULTS
There’s evidence that when children are spanked, their cognitive development slows. Later on, as adults, they’re more prone to suffering from mood disorders and addiction problems and more likely to commit crimes or abuse their spouses or children. They’re more likely to attempt suicide.
All this might come as a surprise, but it makes sense in the context of physical child abuse as a whole. The longest-lasting problems caused by abuse are generally mental, not physical.
The difference between severe beatings and spanking isn’t one of kind, but one of degree. This is true both for how the punishment is carried out, but also how it affects the developing brain.
“The link between child abuse and negative health effects in adulthood has long been known,” says Österman, who recently studied the long-term effects of Finland’s 1983 spanking ban. “Our study shows that adults who were victims of physical punishment during childhood suffer the same types of symptoms in adulthood.”
Her study was especially interesting because it compared kids who’d grown up before and after the ban went into place. The law was found to reduce spanking across all socioeconomic groups, but the strong link between spanking and long-term negative mental health remained in place — reducing the chance that it was a random correlation caused by unrelated socioeconomic factors.
Banning spanking is part of the broader development of laws that protect children
The idea of a law against spanking might seem like a sudden government intrusion on the rights of parents. But the truth is that parents’ and adults’ supposed “rights” have steadily been giving way to children’s actual rights for some time now — and that the US is actually behind much of the world in this area.
FOR MOST OF HUMAN HISTORY, CHILDREN HAD NO RIGHTS AGAINST PHYSICAL ABUSE AT ALL
For most of human history, children had no rights against physical abuse at all: in most societies, a parent was free to beat them however they saw fit. In the US, during the early and mid 20th century, laws were gradually passed that protected children from physical and sexual abuse, along with neglect.
Most recently, 37 nations have banned all forms of physical punishment, including spanking. The earliest laws came in 1979, but the movement has been accelerating as of late — 29 countries have enacted bans since 2000.
Countries with laws that ban all physical punishment of children
In the US, some states have recognized that spanking is abuse — but only when it comes at the hand of someone other than a parent. 30 states have banned all sorts of physical punishment in schools.
States that ban all forms of physical punishment in school (shown in blue):
For comparison, in addition to the 24 nations in Europe that have banned physical punishment entirely, every single European country has banned it in school.
International law has also moved in the direction of banning all forms of physical punishment of children — including spanking. 194 countries have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that commits them to “protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence.” In 2007, the UN committee explicitly interpreted this as forbidding physical all punishment. There are three UN states, though, that still haven’t ratified it: Somalia, South Sudan and the US.
It’s time to ban spanking in the US too
Laws that ban spanking — and explicitly define all physical punishment as abuse — have been proposed in the Massachusetts and California state legislatures in recent years. Both were controversial, though, and were ultimately voted down.
Support for anti-spanking laws is is high among child psychologists, researchers, and other experts. Still, about 81 percent of American adults feel spanking is sometimes necessary to properly discipline a child. The most common argument for spanking usually goes “I got spanked as a child, and I turned out fine.”
But the link between spanking and long-term mental problems doesn’t mean everyone who gets spanked will suffer them — just that they increase the chance of them as a whole. Given that physical punishment also doesn’t work in the short term, it makes sense to err on the side of the child.
WHETHER PUNISHMENT LEAVES A MARK ON THE SKIN OR IN THE BRAIN IS UNIMPORTANT
The other main argument is that the state shouldn’t be in the business of policing parents. Banning spanking might make for more effective parenting, the argument goes, but so would forcing parents to read to their children every night. Ultimately, it’s up to parents to determine how to raise their children.
That’s a stance that makes sense for many aspects of child-raising — but one that we don’t take when it comes to matters of basic well-being and abuse. Over the 20th century, public opinion shifted as we came to accept that the state had a responsibility to prevent parents from beating their children.
Until now, we’ve made a strange distinction: recognizing this responsibility for punishment that leaves broken bones, bruises, or other physical signs of pain, but permitting less severe forms of physical punishment that do not, like spanking. New research, however, is telling us that these so-called “reasonable” forms of physical punishment still make an indelible mark on a child’s brain, increasing the chance of depression, addiction, and other mental disorders down the road.
The discussion here shouldn’t be about parents’ rights, but children’s. Physical punishment as a whole should be banned. Whether the mark it leaves is on the skin or inside the brain is unimportant.
You Gotta Man Up: Klingenschmitt Says Transgender Student Needs A Spanking And An Exorcism | Right Wing Watch
Earlier this year, the Maine Supreme Court ruled that local school officials had violated the rights of a transgender student by not allowing her to use the girls’ restroom and Gordon Klingenschmitt was unsurprisingly opposed to this ruling, declaring on his “Pray In Jesus Name” program yesterday that what this student really needed was a spanking and an exorcism.
Noting that Nicole Maines has an identical twin brother, Klingenschmitt declared that she was possessed by a demonic spirit.
"One of those two boys is possessed by a demon," he said, "and the parents are encouraging that and really what the parents ought to do is take that boy to an exorcist, take that boy to a minister or at least discipline the boy, maybe give him a spanking. Maybe dress him like a boy even if he complains and whines and says ‘I don’t wanna wear boys clothes.’ Too bad, son. You’re a boy, you gotta man up":
Speaking of who needs a spanking, it’s you, Mr. Klingenschmitt.
h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW
Also Not An Onion Article of the Day: 19 States Still Allow Spanking in Schools and the Statistics Are Shocking
Disabled and minority students in rural areas suffer the worst, but there’s one bill that could change it all.
A Kansas lawmaker made headlines last week for introducing a bill to explicitly permit spanking to the point of “redness or bruising” by parents, as well as teachers given permission by parents. The bill almost immediately died in committee, but not before attracting criticism,defense and outright mockery. The discussion was remarkable — not for what was said, but for what remained unaddressed.
Outside the media industry, corporal punishment in school is noncontroversial, as 80% of parents and 72% of Americans believe that it should not be permitted. The South has the highest level of support, a meager 35%. Despite this widespread public opposition, condemnation by pediatric and childcare experts and a growing international abolition movement, school spanking remains legal in 19 states.
This disconnect is relatively new. A 1977 Supreme Court ruling determined that while corporal punishment violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment,” the clause did not apply to students. Under the majority’s logic, criminals could not receive corporal punishment, but students could — even without their parent’s permission.
The ruling and shifting public opinion prompted state legislation. From 1977 to 1997, 24 states banned corporal punishment in schools. But the pace of change has slowed in recent decades. Since 1997, only five bans have passed. Sometime in the 2000s, legislation and public opinion became out of step.
The explanation may lie in who receives corporal punishment. The most recent Department of Education statistics show that around 216,000 students received corporal punishment in 2009, only a slight decrease from the prior study (223,000 in 2006). The number is high, but it’s far from evenly distributed.
Urban districts often have local bans, so that the majority of school spanking is carried out in rural areas. Disabled students are spanked at a disproportionately high level, despite research suggesting that those with mental handicaps are least capable of understanding why they are being punished. Minorities are also punished at a higher rate. In a particularly egregious example, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction found that while Native American students constituted only 2% of students, they received 35% of the state’s corporal punishment. Across all races, about 80% of those punished are boys. The number of non-disabled white women spanked in the United States in 2009 was considered statistically insignificant by the Department of Education.
The disproportionate effect of these policies on minority and disabled students in rural districts could help explain how school spanking remains in place despite majority opposition. More privileged students with more privileged parents (including the 10% with students in private school) are rarely effected and thus unlikely to give the issue much thought. Those most passionate about changing these policies may lack the political power to influence the legislative or media agenda.
Whatever the cause, school spanking remains lawful in 19 states over the opposition of 80% of American parents, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and many others. The next time corporal punishment in schools enters the news cycle, think of the issue not as a controversy, debate or discussion, but a continuing and pernicious failure of American-style democracy.
More bad news out of Kansas, as a proposed bill (HB 2699) that permits teachers, parents, and caregivers to spank children to the point of leaving bruises is being proposed by Gail Finney, a Kansas State Representative Democrat.State Rep. Gail Finney’s (D) bill expands current law, which allows spanking without leaving marks.KC Star:
According to KCTV, the new legislation would permit teachers, caregivers and parents to strike children up to 10 times, and leave redness or even bruising.
“Twenty, 30 years ago, we didn’t sit in car seats, and we do now,” pediatric nurse practitioner and child care expert Amy Terreros pointed out. “So maybe they did spank or were spanked as a child, but now we have research that shows it is less effective than time out. It tends to lead to more aggressive behavior with a child.”
If the bill passes, Kansas will be one of the few states to expand spanking rights. Corporal punishment has been banned completely by 30 states.KCTV reports Rep. John Rubin, chairman of the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee, says he isn’t sure the committee will even consider the bill.What’s even more appalling is that it’s a DEMOCRAT that’s sponsoring this fucked-up bill. And she is very deserving of being primaried for this heinous bill and/or should just switch parties to the GOP, where this type of shit is accepted. Bills to EXPAND or allow corporal punishment DO NOT fit in with Democratic Party or progressive values at all!
And spanking your children does NOT magically make them well-behaved. In fact, it teaches them that violence and bullying is okay.
I hope the voters of the 84th House District primary this DINO out of office!
Hashtags to use: #StopHB2699, #HB2699
Hannity’s viewpoints are out of sync with America.
Daily Kos: Newly minted Fixed Noise "Contributor" Erick Erickson defends the spanking of an 8-year old child at the hands of a Dollar General Employee
RedState creator and newly minted Fixed Noise “Contributor” Erick Erickson goes even further down the hole of asshattery.
The offense: On twitter, he defended the employee who spanked an 8-year old child at least 25+ times over throwing a cookie at her at a Dollar General Store in Wrightsville, Georgia.
WXIA (11Alive), Atlanta’s NBC affiliate:
WRIGHTSVILLE, Ga. — A Dollar General employee arrested in Wrightsville last week for hitting a child with a belt has now been charged with aggravated assault. The charges were upgraded from simple battery because store video showed the woman hitting the 8 year old at least 25 times.
"It was more or less a beating than a spanking the way she was hitting him," said Logan Ivey’s father Jody. "I don’t know how to explain it, and I don’t want to think about it."
Eight-year-old Logan said it was very painful.
"I felt like I had five needles sticking in me; it really hurt, I was screaming ‘Momma,’" he said. "And I was crying real bad because she had actually hurt me…when she stopped whipping me my pants were actually a little bit warm."
Wrightsville Police Chief Paul Sterling said Logan Ivey was running around in the store and got into a confrontation with 39-year-old store clerk Emilia Graciela Bell. Bell told investigators the boy threw a cookie at her and that’s when she removed her belt, chased the boy down and spanked him behind the counter.
Fox News contributor Erick Erickson wrote that a Dollar General employee deserves “a medal” for reportedly responding to an eight-year-old child who threw a cookie at her by hitting the child with her belt dozens of times.
Erickson has a long history of using his Twitter feed to engage in inflammatory commentary.
Gun Owners of America head Larry Pratt went back on VCY America’s Crosstalk, where he last month insisted that the health care reform law was meant to “take away your guns,” to talk to host Jim Schneider about the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.
Pratt agreed with a caller who said that drugs such as Prozac were leading people to kill and another caller wondered if drugs are “raising a bunch of Manchurian candidates.” A man purporting to be Lanza’s uncle had claimed that he was using an antipsychotic drug, Fanapt, but the “uncle” turned out to be an imposter.
Just as many other right-wing commentators blamed the Newtown massacre on the public school system, even though Lanza was homeschooled, Pratt suggested that corporal punishment, along with the arming of teachers, would ensure that schools aren’t “death traps for kids.”
After warning against government “confiscation” of firearms, Pratt floated debunkedconspiracy theories about the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security purchasing ammunition for nefarious reasons and maintained that all policing on the federal level is unconstitutional.
h/t: Right Wing Watch
Mitt Romney is a man of many pledges. He’s pledged to sign a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. He’s pledged to appoint a presidential commission to investigate the intimidation of gay marriage foes. He’s pledged to “look at every government program and ask this question: Is this so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?” But over the last few weeks, as he’s tried to move to the center and reneged on many of his most contentious past promises, there is one pledge he hasn’t backed away from. It involves spanking.
In July, the GOP presidential nominee wrote a letter to Virginia conservative activist Michael Farris, an evangelical power broker in the critical swing state, outlining his opposition to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which commits ratifying nations to protect children from discrimination. “My position on that convention is unequivocal: I would oppose Senate approval of the convention, and would not sign the convention for final ratification,” Romney wrote. “I believe that the best safeguard for the well-being and protection of children is the family, and that the primary safeguards for the legal rights of children in America is the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the states.”
The UN CRC hasn’t received much mainstream attention, but it’s becoming a rallying cry on the far right, mostly because social conservatives fear that its passage would imperil the rights of parents to, among other things, use corporal punishment on their kids. The first bullet point in Farris’ 2009 fact sheet explaining his beef with the treaty warned that “[p]arents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.” (The second was that juveniles could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.) Thanks to the efforts of Farris and others, at least 37 GOP senators have announced their opposition to the treaty.
The fear of a national spanking ban extends beyond the realm of international law. When the Supreme Court upheld most portions of the Affordable Care Act, Farris fretted that “Congress can regulate every aspect of our lives so long as there is a tax involved. Congress can ban spanking by enacting a $1,000 tax on those who do. Congress can ban homeschooling in a similar fashion.”
Since that time, however, Somalia has signaled its intent on approving the CRC. Should newly minted nation South Sudan follow suit, the United States will be an exceptional nation once more.
Yet another reason to abolish corporal punishment in schools.
Like many schools in Texas, “spare the rod and spoil the child” might be considered the motto at Springtown High School. But when two teenage girls there reportedly suffered bruises after being paddled by male assistant principals, some parents complained. They weren’t upset about the punishment itself, but instead that the school violated the policy requiring an educator of the same sex as the student to dole out the paddling. So the school district has changed its policy – to expand, not abolish, corporal punishment. Board members voted Monday night to let administrators paddle students of the opposite sex, after Superintendent Michael Kelley cited a lack of women administrators to carry out spankings. The new policy says a same-gender school official must witness the paddling, which is just one “swat.” In all cases, a parent must give written permission and request it in lieu of another punishment, such as suspension or detention.
Beating Babies in the Name of Jesus? The Shady World of Right-Wing 'Discipline' Guides | Belief | AlterNet
November 8, 2011 |
There is a brutal movement in America that legitimizes child abuse in the name of God. Two stories recently converged to make us pay attention. Last week, a video went viral of a Texas judge brutally whipping his disabled daughter. And on Monday, the New York Times published a story about child deaths in homes that have embraced the teachings of To Train Up a Child, a book by Christian preacher Michael Pearl that advocates using a switch on children as young as six months old.
What many people may not realize is that in the evangelical alternative universe of the home school movement, tightly knit church communities and the following of a number of big-time leaders and authors, physical punishment of children has been glorified for years.
As the Times illustrates — “Preaching Virtue of Spanking, Even as Deaths Fuel Debate” — the books of Michael Pearl and his wife Debi have been found in the homes where several children were killed.
They’re not the only right-wing Christians who advocate these methods. Some of the most respected evangelical discipline gurus have made beating children not just “respectable” in conservative religious circles, but even turned it into a godly activity.
In 1977 James Dobson founder of the “Focus on the Family" religious empire and radio program, wrote a book called Dare To Discipline, whose purpose was, essentially, to get parents to beat their children.
In his book Dobson glorified a sadomasochistic/spiritual ritual of “discipline.” He said he wanted to stop a “liberal” trend in America that was moving away from the godly thrashing of infants. He wanted to help “restore” America to God and the good old days of child hitting. This fit in well with the notion of God as retribution-in-chief that evangelicals endorse.
Dobson isn’t alone. There’s also the work of evangelical “family values” guru Bill Gothard, with a following of millions. As reported by the Cincinnati Beacon, Matthew Murray, the young shooter who killed a bunch of churchgoers in 2007, had been raised according to the teachings of evangelist Bill Gothard.
"I remember the beatings and the fighting and yelling and insane rules and all the Bill Gothard rules and then trancing out," he wrote Dec. 1 under the monicker "nghtmrchld26" on a Web forum for former Pentecostal Christians.
Bill Gothard is the founder of the Institute in Basic Life Principles in Illinois, which promotes a Christian home “education” program. As quoted in the Beacon article Murray said “I remember how it was, like every day was Mission Impossible trying to keep the rules or not get caught and just …survive every single (expletive) day,”
In The Strong Willed Child (Living Books 1992), Dobson makes a parallel between beating children and beating dogs:
"I had seen this defiant mood before, and knew there was only one way to deal with it. The ONLY way to make Siggie obey is to threaten him with destruction. Nothing else works. I turned and went to my closet and got a small belt to help me ‘reason’ with Mr. Freud.
"What developed next is impossible to describe. That tiny dog and I had the most vicious fight ever staged between man and beast. I fought him up one wall and down the other, with both of us scratching and clawing and growling and swinging the belt. I am embarrassed by the memory of the entire scene. Inch by inch I moved him toward the family room and his bed. As a final desperate maneuver, Siggie backed into the corner for one last snarling stand. I eventually got him to bed, only because I outweighed him 200 to 12!
"But this is not a book about the discipline of dogs; there is an important moral to my story that is highly relevant to the world of children. JUST AS SURELY AS A DOG WILL OCCASIONALLY CHALLENGE THE AUTHORITY OF HIS LEADERS, SO WILL A LITTLE CHILD — ONLY MORE SO." [Emphasis Dobson’s]
"[I]t is possible to create a fussy, demanding baby by rushing to pick him up every time he utters a whimper or sigh. Infants are fully capable of learning to manipulate their parents through a process called reinforcement, whereby any behavior that produces a pleasant result will tend to recur. Thus, a healthy baby can keep his mother hopping around his nursery twelve hours a day (or night) by simply forcing air past his sandpaper larynx.
"Perhaps this tendency toward self-will is the essence of ‘original sin’ which has infiltrated the human family. It certainly explains why I place such stress on the proper response to willful defiance during childhood, for that rebellion can plant the seeds of personal disaster."
Dobson is mild compared to the popular evangelical authors Michael and Debi Pearl. In their book To Train Up a Child (1994) they advocate beating babies.
In the book they recommend “switching” a 7-month-old on the bare bottom or leg seven to eight times as a punishment for getting angry. If the baby is still angry, the urge parents to repeat the punishment until the child gives in to the pain. The “switch” they recommend for an under 1-year-old is from a willow tree and/or a 12-inch ruler.
The leadership of the evangelical world, from Billy Graham to the editors of Christianity Today magazine or the megachurch pastors like Rick Warren, have not called for the banishment of abusers like the Pearls, Dobson or Gothard. These people remain in good standing.
In the Pearls’ case, actual criminal complaints have been brought against some parents who have killed their children and who have been following the “methods” in To Train Up a Child. This book can be nevertheless be found in thousands of “respectable” evangelical bookstores. Here’s what the evangelicals approve by their silence and complicity, as noted in the Examiner and many other media sources:A California couple has been charged with murder and torture after their discipline methods caused the death of one of their children and critical injuries for another.
Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz of Paradise, California, are accused of murdering their 7-year-old adopted daughter during a “discipline session.” The couple is also charged with the torture of their 11-year-old adopted daughter and cruelty to a child for signs of bruising discovered on their 10-year-old biological son.
The parents allegedly used a 15-inch length of plastic tubing used for plumbing to beat the children, a practice recommended in the book “To Train Up a Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl of “No Greater Joy Ministries.”
The same plumbing supply tools were linked to a North Carolina child’s death in 2006, when a devotee of the Pearls accidentally killed her 4-year-old son by suffocating him in tightly wrapped blankets.
Police later found out about the Pearls’ recommendations to beat children with this type of plumbing supply tubing from a Salon Magazine article, “Spare the quarter-inch plumbing supply line, spoil the child.”
Mr. Pearl, who has no degree or training in child development, writes in his book that he and his wife used “the same principles the Amish use to train their stubborn mules” — namely, “switches.”
On their web site, the Pearls write that “switching” or giving “licks” with a plumbing supply line is a “real attention getter.”
And it is not just individuals who are abused. Whole “Christian” organizations are involved. According to a report by Channel 13 WTHR Indianapolis (and many other media sources over the years),
"At first glance, the Bill Gothard-founded and run Indianapolis Training Center looks like an ordinary conference hotel. But some say there are dark secrets inside. "They’re not here to play," Mark Cavanaugh, an ITC staffer tells a mother on hidden-camera video. ‘They’re here because they’ve been disobedient, they’ve been disrespectful.’"
He’s talking about young offenders who are sent to the center by the Marion County Juvenile Court. Critics of the program here, however, have another view. “This is sort of a shadow world where these kids almost disappear,” said John Krull, executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. The pitch for the centers says that they were founded by Gothard because: “At the age of 15, Bill Gothard noticed some of his high school classmates making unwise decisions. Realizing that they would have to live with the consequences of these decisions, he was motivated to dedicate his life to helping young people make wise choices.”
The WTHR report goes on to detail how they help these young people make “wise choices”:
"But Eyewitness News has learned of disturbing allegations about the center, including routine corporal punishment — sometimes without parental consent — and solitary confinement that can last for months.
And just last week, Child Protective Services began investigating the center. That investigation involves Teresa Landis, whose 10-year-old daughter spent nearly a year at the center — sent there, according to Judge Payne, after she attacked a teacher and a school bus driver. What happened next outrages her family and critics of the ITC. The girl allegedly was confined in a so-called “quiet room” for five days at a time; restrained by teenage “leaders” who would sit on her; and hit her with a wooden paddle 14 times. At least once, the family contends, she was prevented from going to the bathroom and then forced to sit in her own urine.”
Dobson, the Pearls and Gothard both have a big followings in Rick Perry’s hang-em’-high “Christian” Texas. And Texas is where evangelical leader Gary North is based as he writes and preaches his Reconstructionist/Dominionist theology about applying literal Old Testament law — including the execution of “incorrigible youths” — as mandated by the Bible. So even Dobson is “mild” by comparison to the Reconstructionists who did so much to influence the far-right “Christian” politics — the likes of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry.
Dangerous discipline indeed.
Police in Rockport, Texas, have started an investigation after the alarming circulation of a video depicting the brutal abuse of a teenager with disabilities that was uploaded onto Reddit and YouTube.
Authorities are checking the veracity of the video and trying to determine whether a local judge was involved, they reported on Wednesday.
“We were made aware of the video last night and it has been assigned to our criminal investigation division. An investigation is ongoing at this time,” Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe told The Huffington Post.
The seven-and-a-half minute clip, which has nearly a half-million views, shows a teenage girl being brutally beaten with belts by an older male and female. According to a description of the clip, the girl has ataxic cerebral palsy and is being punished for “using the Internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase” at the time.
“Bend over the f—king bed, dammit,” the man says as he repeatedly beats the girl about her body with a belt. “Lay down or I’ll spank your f—king face. … I have to f—king beat you into submission. You want to put some more computer games on? You want some more? F—king computer… See all the problems they cause?”
The video recently surfaced on video-sharing websites, triggering enormous outrage from viewers.
“This man is a monster and should be put in prison. He clearly enjoys whipping this girl,” one viewer commented.
Another said, “These parents are a f—king waste of space and do not deserve to be breathing our air even living. I hope these parents burn in hell and are whipped every f—king second of their miserable time in hell.”
A description of the video identifies the male abuser as Aransas County Court-At-Law Judge William Adams.
“Judge William Adams is not fit to be anywhere near the law system if he can’t even exercise fit judgment as a parent himself. Do not allow this man to ever be re-elected again. His ‘judgment’ is a giant farce. Signed, Hillary Adams, his daughter,” the YouTube description says.
The person who wrote the video description does, however, defend the woman in the video.
“The judge’s wife was emotionally abused herself and was severely manipulated into assisting the beating and should not be blamed for any content in this video,” it says. “The judge’s wife has since left the marriage due to the abuse, which continues to this day, and has sincerely apologized and repented for her part and for allowing such a thing, long before this video was even revealed to exist.”
Chief Jayroe confirmed his department is investigating Judge Adams.
“We haven’t confirmed the authenticity of the video yet or spoke with the person who made it,” Jayroe said. “It appears to have been made in 2004. We have not verified anyone’s participation in the video yet.”
Earlier today, KRIS-TV spoke with Hillary Adams. She said she was 16 years old when the video was filmed.
“It had happened before and had been escalating,” Adams told the news station. “I set up a camera, and I caught it.”
Adams reportedly said the abuse had gone on for years and that she only recently decided to upload the video.
“My father’s harassment was getting really bad, so I decided to finally publish the video that I had been sitting on for 7 years,” Adams said.
Judge William Adams, you ought to be ashamed of yourself for beating up your teenage daughter (at the time of the film being taped)!! You ought to be fucking ashamed of your behavior and should resign immediately!