Sunday, September 21, 2014

Hitting kids

I listened to an hour long conversation on Public Radio about 'corporal punishment'--the nicer way of saying 'hitting kids'.

All the evidence of much scientific study proves that 'hitting kids' doesn't work in any way. In fact, 'hitting kids' has bad results--humiliation and withdrawal, later violence, no change in behavior.

I was never hit as a kid. Bern wasn't either. So we didn't hit Josh and Mimi (though I did put my fist through a wall in New Haven when Josh did something I could not abide.) And, so far as I know, Josh and Cathy have never hit their kids.

Here's the first question (AND maybe the 'only' question) to ask: why is it a crime to hit another adult and not a crime to hit your kid?

Did you know that the US is the nation that most often hits kids? Many Western nations and nations in the second and third world, have made hitting your kid a crime.

It doesn't fuckin' work! Hitting your kid has no effect whatsoever on future behavior. So why do we still do it?

Here's an interesting fact: a much larger percentage of 'born again Christians' hit their kids than other populations. Something about 'spare the rod and spoil the child' kind of mentality.

And people who were hit as children tend to a much greater degree to hit their children than parents who weren't hit as children.

It's about breaking the cycle, as so many things are.

When you hit someone--your wife or husband, your kid, another adult--you have already lost control of the situation. "Hitting" is the last resort. So, if you are hitting you've already lost the strands that would make for a healthy relationship. When you hit your child it is about 'you' not them. They learn nothing and gain nothing from the hitting. You channel your frustration into striking out but don't learn anything or gain anything from the violence inflicted on a helpless, defenseless child.

All this radio conversation was spurred by the accusations against Adrian Peterson, the MVP running back of the Minnesota Vikings who apparently switched his 4 year old so badly he needed emergency medical assistance.

By the way, a four year old doesn't have enough frontal cortex development to control their behavior. Hitting a four year old is like hitting a hedge-hog. No message gets through. Not at all.

I think we can thank the NFL, ironically, for giving us a forum to talk about domestic violence (Ray Rice and others) and hitting kids (Adrian Peterson).

It's long past time that both conversations should be gripping our culture.

In an ironic way, thank God for pro football players. Maybe now we can truly face the twin horrors of domestic violence and child abuse and not let ourselves off the hook.

(Interesting, isn't it, that it takes millionaires behaving badly to get us to pay attention?)

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some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.