All Articles Tagged "corporal punishment"
Deeper Than Twerking: For Parents of Little Black Girls, Hold Off On The Whoopings And Try Open And Honest Communication First
I understand that frustration, disbelief and even rage aren’t foreign emotions for parents. I know because I have a mother who didn’t pull any punches. I can empathize with parents because though I wasn’t as bad as many of the kids I grew up with – I was NOT an easy child to deal with.
Where my concern increases is when it comes to black girls. We’re quick to beat them, ground them, and punish them for their behavior or acting out, sometimes (most horrifyingly) in suggestive ways, but my question is this: How often do we talk to them?
In the 2nd grade, I was dared to write a dirty love letter to a kid in my class. Being the Billy Jean Bad A** that I was, I did it with no qualms. Never dreamed that the kid I wrote it to would give the letter to my teacher who then called my mother. How embarrassing for my mother to get THAT call about her pig-tailed daughter. Best believe I got a whoopin’ when I got home that day.
The embarrassment and subsequent anger of being confronted with your 2nd grade daughter’s rather sophisticated and graphic version of a love letter has to be through the roof. But the fear in wondering where she could have possibly learned all of this has to be even greater. And so, although my mother did ask why I wrote it, I couldn’t give any kind of soul-bearing answer at that age so she truly believed a good slap (or 15) on the butt would set me straight. It did, sort of. I never wrote anything like that again. But all the things leading to that love letter wouldn’t be discussed and a healing process wouldn’t begin until I was 22 years old. That’s a long time to be walking around with insecurity, shadows of bad memories, and emotional trauma you can’t quite work out no matter how many church services you go to or journals you fill.
So, when I saw the story of the girls who were beat for creating a twerk video, I understood both sides. I understood that the video they created was only a symptom of much deeper insecurity they’re dealing with. I understood their father’s anger, because as many of my male friends have expressed to me, where daughter’s are concerned, the black father’s role, in their mind, is to keep their daughter(s) off the pole. So I understood, but I grieved as well. I grieved for the root that was planted in those young ladies’ minds that caused them to believe popping their butts on camera would bring them admiration, respect, or love. I grieved for a father who never wanted this for his daughters, but who acted out of rage and embarrassment more than out of love. I grieved for the society that praises black women for being voluptuous but not for being value-based. But more than anything, I grieved for the generational curse of non-communication we face as a race.
While my mother and I have built an amazing relationship over the past few years, she’s been honest with me in saying that there were always things she never wanted to discuss with my sister and me, for fear that she would put the wrong ideas in our heads. I asked if she had had a communicative childhood with her parents and she told me that she hadn’t, not really. While there was unconditional love, communication wasn’t as free-flowing. I now see the pattern that had plagued not only my family but today plagues millions of families nationwide. The Internet and the media are a big machine. Our children are small wonders getting caught in that soul-crushing grind before they even get a chance to know and love themselves.
While I do believe physical discipline (not abuse) within reason and administered out of LOVE can be useful in parenting, open and honest communication MUST always be our first line of defense. There is a WORLD of things beyond a child’s comprehension and emotional maturity that young people are dealing with nowadays. If they can’t know that they have a safe space to express themselves with their own parents, where will they go and to whom will they run for affirmation?
La Truly writes to encourage and catalyze thought, discussion and positive change among young women. She is a contributor to MadameNoire. Follow La on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe www.about.me/latruly.
In the midst of my scrambling to keep up with the avalanche of homework assignments that have poured in since the start of fall classes, my laptop charger broke. I frantically got myself together to head to the Apple store so that I could purchase another charger and get back to the many tasks at hand when my Aunt called and asked if I could look after my four-year-old cousin Nyla* for a few hours. I agreed to bring her along. “What’s the worst that could happen?” I thought to myself. You could probably guess what happened next because chances are I wouldn’t be writing this article if things went smoothly, right? Nyla behaved terribly. And no, I’m not talking about that “Why-do-I-have-to-keep-talking-to-you!” terrible, I mean that blatant and disrespectful I-see-you-talking-to-me-but-I’m-going-to-look-you-in-your-face-and-do-what-I-want-anyway terrible. You know all of those things your parents used to warn you that you’d better not do when you all got out in public? Apparently she didn’t get the memo because she pulled out all of those tricks. Her behavior made me want to take her back home as soon as I got into the mall, which was unfortunate because I’d planned to make the best out of our outing and try to make it fun for her by taking her to get ice cream and to the toy store to pick out a new doll. While her misbehavior was annoying, what bothered me the most was her quick mouth, which she fixed several times to tell me “Relax, girl.” Yes she did, and she’s only four.
During the entire outing all I kept thinking was “Wow, what is the protocol for disciplining other people’s children again?” I do not have children; however, I do hope to have them someday. While I felt Nyla’s behavior certainly had earned a nice “POP,” I wasn’t sure how I would feel about someone else putting their hand’s on my child and even more so how my aunt would feel about it. Sure, there are methods of disciplining children other than corporal punishment, but this child was way beyond time-out and the way that she was disregarding the instruction that I did give her, it probably wouldn’t have worked anyway. I realize that this is a topic with a wide range of viewpoints so I had some parents and child care providers weigh in on the subject as well. When asked how they felt about other people physically disciplining their children this is how they responded:
“I find nothing wrong with it as long as i have given you the “okay” that you’re apart of my village in helping me raise my child. If you’re a random person, then nope! I am quick to help discipline another child, because I know I am coming from a place of teaching, correcting and helping the child learn life. I have always been everybody’s momma!”
- Tishima H., Brooklyn, NY
“This is never okay. There are other ways to discipline children, negative plus negative is only positive in math. I’ve been working with children for about four years now, all ages. I’ve seen the worst behavior and have managed to reverse it with other methods. With all that being said, don’t touch my kid!”
- Tiffani G., Orlando, FL
“Family, meaning people I know to care about me and my child’s well being. They have to have been around my child most of their life, not in and out. They have to know and understand my child from their innocent stages until that moment of discipline. If they see my child doing harm to another human being, by all means snatch them up! You could be saving his/her life at that moment as well as saving their family some unwanted tears.”
- Richard G., Brooklyn, NY
Needless to say, I decided against hitting Nyla. Instead, I told her that I was very unhappy with her behavior and sat in silence during our ride home since I know that talking is one of her favorite things to do. I felt better about this decision since I’m not exactly sure how I feel about physical discipline, yet. Although corporal punishment seems to be an unwritten rule in many black households, my parents never had to hit me growing up. I was such a sensitive kid that a raised voice would set off the waterworks. My brother; however, was a different story. A good spanking was the only language he understood. In the case of Nyla, I can’t say how effective my “silent punishment” was. I guess I’ll know the next time she and I are out in public.
What are your thoughts? Are you okay with other people physically disciplining your children? Should corporal punishment even be inflicted on children at all?
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We know what a polarizing topic corporal punishment is and the line between those who do and those who don’t is probably about to get a lot thicker now that a study has claimed to have found a link between being spanked as a child and developing a mental illness as an adult.
In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, researchers examined data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked significantly increased the risk of developing mental health issues as adults. Specifically, corporal punishment was associated with mood disorders like depression and anxiety, as well as personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. According to investigators, as much as 7 percent of adult mental illness may be attributable to childhood physical punishment, including slapping, shoving, grabbing, and hitting. Furthermore, the study concludes that spanking increases the risk of major depression by 41 percent, alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent, and mania by 93 percent.
Study author Tracie Afifi, PhD, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, said in a statement:
“We’re not talking about just a tap on the bum, we were looking at people who used physical punishment as a regular means to discipline their children. [This study] definitely points to the direction that physical punishment should not be used on children of any age.”
For the results the researchers observed, it would seem they were talking about physical punishments far more severe than a parent getting a switch and hitting their child with it, but their analysis excluded individuals who reported more severe punishments such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, or exposure to intimate partner violence. Most of us know someone who was regularly disciplined as a child by spankings and was better off for it (heck, we might even be that person), and as one facetious commenter said on a Yahoo write-up of the study:
“In a related study, children who were given no consequences at all for bad behaviors turned out to be psychopaths, sociopaths, and politicians.”
I think studies like this need to be clear about the line between spanking and beating or physically harming your child. I don’t think physical punishment should always be the first choice of discipline but there are times when it’s needed and there was a time when it was socially acceptable without the threat of being labeled a child abuser because of data like this.
Thankfully, psychologist Robert Larzelere, of Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, provided more of a voice of reason when asked to comment on the study by USA Today. He said:
“Certainly, overly severe physical punishment is going to have adverse effects on children, but for younger kids, if spanking is used in the most appropriate way and the child perceives it as being motivated by concern for their behavior and welfare, then I don’t think it has a detrimental effect.
“[This study] does nothing to move beyond correlations to figure out what is actually causing the mental health problems,” he added criticizing the fact that the study relied on adults’ memories of events from years earlier, adding that it’s not clear when punishment occurred. “The motivation that the child perceives and when and how and why the parent uses [spanking] makes a big difference. All of that is more important than whether it was used or not.”
What do you think about this study? Do you think spanking and physical punishment is dangerous to kids’ psyches?
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Imagine almost losing your life for commenting to a complete stranger that their choice in discipline may not be the best. Lefenus Pickett could have just as well been anyone of us on June 18 last year as he boarded a Philadelphia Septa bus and shortly after, witnessed 20 year-old Penny Chapman spanking her son when he started to run up and down the bus. After Pickett complained and referenced that Chapman was “abusing” her son, he then said he witnessed an offended Chapman call someone on her cell phone, and when the bus stopped on Cecil B. Moore Avenue, she was escorted off of the bus and two men armed with weapons proceeded to shoot into the bus 13 times. The bus driver sped from the scene and amazingly none of the passengers were hurt.
Unfortunately, this is the reason that many of us choose to say nothing when we witness parents who choose to broadcast their obvious lack of parenting skills in public for the world to witness. We question if it’s really any of our business, we want to avoid confrontation or we foolishly believe that if we haven’t had the opportunity to parent ourselves, we obviously don’t know any better than those who in many instances didn’t plan on becoming parents themselves. It truly does take a village to raise a child. Most of us had parents or parental figures when we were children and have enough of a frame of reference to know who deserves to be “Mother-Of-The Year” and who needs to be meeting with child services.
We’ve all seen it at least once. And while I don’t partake in social work as a hobby, I must say that it turns my stomach when I see a mother proceed to cuss and demean her child, kicking him while he is on the ground crying because she’s upset that he keeps pestering her to buy a dollar toy (which I actually have witnessed). If a child’s own parent isn’t even protecting them, you have to wonder who is. So I am calling out trifling parents everywhere and letting them know that their behavior will no longer be tolerated. Hopefully none of the traits below apply to you, and if they do, there’s no better time to make a change.
At the beginning of the year, a video of an uncle spanking his nephew for his gang involvement went viral on the internet. But just last week, the teen in the video, Michael Taylor, the recipient of his uncle’s lashes was found dead, not far from the apartment complex where he lived in with his mother.
The Times-Picayune reported that Taylor, 16, was found dead at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7.
Michael’s mom, Kimberly Ward, told the newspaper that Michael received a text message from one of his friends and stepped outside the house at around 8 p.m. to talk.
Ward, concerned that her son was outside too long, called him back inside. Michael told her he was just talking and stepped back outside. Later, Ward’s daughter received a text message saying that her brother had been shot and then another saying that he was dead.
Ward said she rushed from the house, driving around the neighborhood looking for her son, but didn’t find him until she was coming back to her apartment complex. That’s when she saw his body on the cold sidewalk clad in the red sweatshirt she’d noticed when he left the house.
“I came home and saw my son on the ground,” Ward said.
The Picayune reported that Ward was trying to figure out where she went wrong in raising her child.
Losing a son at 16 is an unfathomably devastating loss. She said that her son was “guilty by association” because of his involvement with gang members. Naturally, we didn’t know Michael’s life or what factors contributed to his death; but, I’m inclined to think the video of his uncle spanking him may have had something to do it.
When that video hit the web, people applauded his uncle, claiming that Michael needed that physical intervention. I understood the sentiment behind the uncle’s actions. He was trying to save his nephew’s life. Scare him straight.
But Stacey Patton, founder of the web site SparetheKids.com told Black America Web that after that video, she’s not surprised that Michael’s life ended violently.
When I saw the video, I kept thinking that by beating this youth, the uncle was setting him up for some kind of tragedy, either prison or an early grave.
I, too felt like Michael’s uncle was setting him up but not because of the spanking itself. Many of us have caught a spanking, beating or whooping or two in our lives and it didn’t cause us to turn to violence. The difference between us and Michael though, is the fact that his spanking was broadcast for the whole world to see.
If you’ve ever experienced corporal punishment at the hand of a parent, you know that there is a feeling of embarrassment afterward. Sometimes it’s because you recognize that you’ve acted a fool; but most of the time, it’s because being hit, by anyone, especially someone you can’t hit back, is a very…humbling experience, an experience that should remain private.
When I first saw the video I thought, ‘ok, you’re trying to teach your nephew a lesson but what is the point of uploading such a humiliating video onto the internet? Are you the one trying to be seen?’
You remember how hard it was being a teenager, how image was everything, how we spent excessive time and energy trying to appear cool. What do you think a video of you getting your behind tore up would do for your image?
Now, consider the fact that Michael was a young, black male already involved with gangs! For the better part of this year he was defined by a video so detrimental to his image and self confidence. If anything this downright embarrassing video probably propelled him even deeper into a life of crime, trying to prove his strength and street credibility.
WTF was his uncle thinking about?
With new technological advances comes greater responsibility. If you want or need to discipline your child or your family member, fine. But keep that in your house. We strangers don’t need to be a part of that. I can’t help but think that Michael’s uncle was trying to get a little shine from this whole incident. Clearly, this is not the way to do it. Becoming a You Tube/ World Star Hip Hop sensation is cool, but at what cost?
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The New York Times recently featured two Madame Noire contributors in its Room for Debate discussion on spanking and whether or not corporal punishment is a racial issue. LaShuan Williams says “Corporal punishment has long been an acceptable, common form of discipline among African-Americans. Indeed, spanking is as much a part of popular black culture as fried chicken and Kool-Aid.” Alrighty then.
Toya Sharee doesn’t quite agree with that view. “Black parents today are beginning to recognize more and more that every tantrum can’t be controlled with a time-out or a spanking, and that discipline should be tailored to specific situations for each individual child,” she says in the Room for Debate piece.
Do you think most black parents think they are supposed to spank kids? Do you believe in spanking?