Spanking chat from mothers
In a late 1990s case that made national headlines, a Superior Court judge upheld a DSS charge of child abuse against a Massachusetts minister who used the soft end of a belt to discipline his 9-year-old son.
The child is not in the doghouse." Ginger Plowman's practical how-to text, Don't Make Me Count to Three, expands that idea, cautioning mothers against the use of spanking as a threat to merely produce good behavior.When Susan Lawrence sent away for a complimentary copy of Home School Digest three years ago, she never expected a life-altering shove toward activism.But an advertisement in the magazine for flexible nylon spanking rods propelled the Massachusetts mother to launch a full-on campaign against corporal punishment.Children need to know that they are people, and it's a basic human right to not be hit." Casting the issue in terms of human rights has prompted the former church music director to seek legislative remedies: Lawrence would never spank her children and believes it should be illegal for others to spank theirs.In countries like Norway, Germany, and Israel, it already is.In most of the other 22 states, the practice is extremely rare-with the exception of several Southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas.
Most Americans, including Tripp and Plowman, disapprove of public-school paddling and are pleased with its decline. Tripp agrees, but cautions parents never to spank in public or in view of others who may consider it abuse.
The undisputed facts of the case, as outlined in the court's decision, reveal that an unnamed 10-year-old girl had stolen a CD from a local Kmart, lied to her parents about breaking the rules of her subsequent grounding, and thrown a fit when asked to clean off the green marker scribbles on the walls and carpet of her room.
According to the decision, her mother's spanking, which immediately halted the fit and produced the desired behavior, amounted to abuse and neglect because the "mother did not attempt any other form of discipline before administering the six strikes with a belt." Such rulings are not new.
"It's not just about getting the kids to act right," she says.
"We want them to obey and do what's right out of a love for God, not because they might get a spanking.
Such prominent court cases, and the accompanying damage to parental authority for the parties involved, leave many parents wary of spanking their children-or at least of admitting it.