prest0 made a post to his blog (forwarded from an email he received, he did not write this) about how things are different now than they were in the 50s. One of them was this:
Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1957 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has affair with psychologist.
The premise is that you used to be able to beat your kids with a belt, it was ok to do so, and it made them better in the long run. I disagree with that. I think that not being able to beat your kid with a belt, no matter how “bad” they have been, is a good thing. I dislike violence in general but I know that sometimes a kid needs a spanking, but hitting a kid with a belt? Really?
There is a history of child abuse in my family. Not in my generation (that I know of), but I have relatives who’ve told me about abuse by their parents. To quote:
“He used to come home drunk and beat the crap out of us.”
“I had defensive wounds on my forearms from one time when she attacked me with a piece of wood.”
“The doctor asked me when I had broken my rib, as my x-ray showed a healed fracture. I don’t remember it happening, he must have broken my rib one time when he was beating me.”
I’ve been spanked. I don’t recall what for, probably for running off at the mouth or something, and I don’t resent it. I don’t necessarily agree that it was necessary, it’s not like I was hitting other kids or damaging property or anything like that, but I don’t resent them for it and I haven’t turned into a violent sociopath because I was spanked. So it’s not like I’m the sort who would coddle a kid who was acting up and other methods of punishment (such as the infamous “time out”) hadn’t worked.
But to take a belt to a child, that seems really wrong to me. Using a belt says “I want this to hurt more than it would if I just used my hand.” It’s a deliberate escalation of the desire to cause pain. To me, that’s abhorrent. If you need to grab a weapon to punish your child, maybe what they’ve done requires a trip to the police station instead?