MANSFIELD: Spare the Rod?

My most recent postings about the problems at the Juvenile Justice Center have spurred many responses, virtually all of them laudatory, and the vast majority of them I agree with. However, a few responders are of the opinion that the root cause of the young men acting out inappropriately — indeed violently — at the facility is because their parents “spared the rod,” which, as everyone knows, according to the Christian Bible, “spoils the child.”

But as I recall, this is the same Bible that calls for stoning women as punishment for some transgression or another. I think it has to do with adultery, but whatever the alleged crime, I’m glad we no longer adhere to this form of punishment. It also has some rather interesting views on slavery, as I recall, yet some folks will argue that their Bible cannot ever be wrong. Go figure.

Using corporal punishment against children is just as antiquated as stoning, and here’s why: It’s really uncalled for, totally unnecessary when it comes to successfully raising a child. Indeed, it’s simply a lazy way to parent. It’s akin to trying to teach children to not hit each other — by hitting them.

Now before anyone gets the opinion that I was a softie as a parent, they can disabuse themselves of that notion. I was a fairly firm disciplinarian (especially during the early formative years, when it really matters) who always took whatever time out that was required and necessary to do my job of parenting.

The parents that hit — actually “beat” is a more appropriate word in some cases — children are doing so because that was the way they were raised, and no one dare say anything negative about how their parents raised them, right? They and their parents (and grandparents also for that matter), for some strange reason, equate beatings with caring, without stopping to think that this kind of thinking is actually a holdover from slavery.

Our ancestors got beat by slavemasters so it became inculcated as a sick, negative part of our culture, our way of handling stressful situations — to lash out violently. This partially explains much of the violence black folk — even as adults — routinely visit upon each other: it must be right because the white man did it to us for so many centuries.

A bit stressed and upset with your spouse, your boss, or that person that cut you off in traffic on your way home? No problem, take it out on someone who is smaller than you and doesn’t have the wherewithal to fight back; and if they do dare to fight back it will only make their beating more severe.

The parent as bully: an ignorant piece of dog excrement.

Too many parents are lazy or otherwise involved with matters of more import that properly raising their offspring. They often don’t want to get up off the couch to show as well as tell, and some of them don’t want to interrupt the viewing of their favorite soaps long enough to enforce the rules. And this bad parenting is colorblind, as Hispanics and whites engage in it also.

In my first draft of this missive, I had inserted some advice on the proper way to parent at this juncture. But I removed it since it doesn’t make sense: Any parent that doesn’t know how to raise a child but wants to learn will go to the library and check out one of the dozens of fine books on the subject. The rest will simply remain blissfully ignorant and stuck in the rightness of their wrong position on this issue.

From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.


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