Civil Liberties

State-Based Parenting

|

A childless (yes, it's relevant) California legislator is promising a bill that would make it a crime to spank your kid. Governator Schwarzenegger, who some have at times described as libertarian-leaning, says he is "open" to the idea. His first reaction was, I guess, fairly benign:

"I just want to find out from her exactly the way she envisions it and to enforce it and what the whole thing is about," the governor said.

But then he followed with:

"But I think any time we try to pass laws that say you've got to protect the kids, it's, in general, always good. So we have to find out more about it."

Meanwhile, in the free-livin', wild west state of Texas, a self-described "conservative Republican" legislator wants to make it a crime to miss a parent-teacher conference.  Parents with an approved excuse would be forgiven the fine.

NEXT: He's Not a Real Lawyer, but He Played One in Connecticut

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Ok, as a liberal, I have to say that even if I hadn’t been drifting in an increasingly libertarian direction over the last few years, I would find both these laws ridiculous. WHAT THE F— IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE!?

  2. I see the statute does not define what an “approved excuse.” I don’t foresee that being a problem at all.

  3. Schwarzengroper isn’t libertaran leaning. He just proposed a universal health care scheme that woulda made Hillary blush, he recently saddled us with another 50 billion in bond debt, his spending is record setting.

    As Warren Beatty mentioned (to laughter and applause) at the Golden Globes:

    I don’t know why they can’t just do what I ask them to do. I asked Arnold (Schwarzenegger) to become a Democrat and he did what I said.

    Warren’s here all week.

  4. [history sarcasism] As far as I know it is still legal for one Senator to beat another US Senator with your cain. As long as they don’t mess with that one I am fine.[/history sarcasism]

  5. Meant to mention that I saw Reason’s Shikha Dalmia’s piece on Arnold’s version of Hillary Care in the LA Daily News this AM.

  6. Assemblywoman Sally Lieber hit a nerve when she mused publicly last week about making it illegal for parents to strike children younger than age 4.

    What? Spanking isn’t barbaric once the kid’s in kindergarten?

    A childless (yes, it’s relevant)….

    Yes, she is childless. That’s exactly when the kid needs a swat on the behind, when they’re too young to reason with, take the car keys away from, ban from Runescape, or put on restriction. There really isn’t any point or reason to swat an eight year old. Okay, once in a while a quick swat to the backside will ratchet mouthiness back to manageable levels, but it isn’t nearly as effective as twenty minutes in chains in the dungeon, er, basement.

  7. I see the statute does not define what an “approved excuse.” I don’t foresee that being a problem at all.

    I wonder if the law will require that the parent receive notice of the parent-teacher conference. Beyond relying on the student involved to take a note home, I mean.

    That said, when my daughters were in high school parent attendance wasn’t the problem. I’d have voted for a law requiring that a teacher schedule a conference when I wanted one.

  8. It’s been said before, but needs to be said on every one of these types of threads: there are too many laws, but legislators seem convinced that their job is to pass new laws. The only new laws that can be passed at this point are those which restrict freedom that much more.

    I say that if someone wants to propose a new law, they either repeal an old one at the same time, or agree to commit seppoku once the law is passed.

  9. I don’t have any children yet, but I don’t see how anyone could think that its ok to hit a child. This goes double for Libertarians. Aren’t we supposed to be against the initation of force?

  10. I get no respect. I sent this shit to H&R Sun AM I think. WITH the potential ‘make fun of childless proponent of the bill’ angle. Grumble grumble grumble. Balko, I dont blame you, but I’m gonna have to send my goons to whomever the Blog editor is to get their kneecaps realigned.

  11. GILMORE,

    Don’t feel bad. I emailed Radley the story about Neteller leaving the gambling biz in the US, which he used on his own site, but do I get any credit?

    Not that I’m looking for it, but I thought it owuld have been a good follow-up story on this blog to the story about the Neteller founders being arrested.

  12. Sorry.

    Try to give credit when I can.

    But when several people email the same story or lots of other people have been writing about it (as with the spanking bill), it can get a bit difficult.

    Dave B. — You don’t think it might be appropriate to smack a two-year-old child’s hand if, for example, he’s playing with an electrical outlet? Or to swat his behind if he runs out into the street?

    Maybe there are other ways to deal with both examples. But I certainly wouldn’t make it a crime to do either.

  13. Speaking of the Agitator, since we can’t comment there:

    At halftime of the Colts game, I told my sullen Colts fan friends that they still had hope… somebody needed to tell the Patriots that they’d have to play the Bears in the Super Bowl.

    I’m surprised the Patriots even took the field in the second half.

  14. I didn’t notice that the proposal would criminalize ANY hitting. I’m fairly against spanking, but that’s just plain ridiculous. And even if this was about spanking, I’m not necessarily agreeing that it should be illegal. I’m just wondering how so many people can think its appropriate.

  15. Radley,

    I hope that you were able to see the jest in my comment. I love your work (I’ve been reading The Agitator for a long time and I’m still thrilled you came to reason) and hope that you keep fighting the good fight. Especially in Virginia, where my son is practically one of your neighbors and his mom’s boyfriend is one of Fairfax County’s men in blue.

    Trust me, I’m not thrilled about anything I typed in that last sentence, but that’s a long story.

  16. I Found Free PlayBoy Girls, you need view this.
    Absolutely FREE PlayBoy & Penthouse:

    http://www.girlsupdates.com/gateway.php

  17. Good Lord people, don’t you know it’s for the children!

    There seems to be a rule, or perhaps it is a law of nature, that elected officials eventually spend their time thinking about and proposing laws intended to help the rest of us do the right thing – as they see it, of course. Could it be that this is along the lines of “nature abhors a vacuum” and results from them just having too much effing time on their hands? Can’t they take up a hobby? Insect collecting, for example? How about we restrict the legislative annual calendar to 100 days spread over 50 two-day sessions, would that help?

  18. What’s wrong with these people is that they don’t give a shit about the fact that the law is a very blunt instrument. They imagine that anything they believe to be a good idea is SO good, that it should be mandatory.

    And in that vein, I propose that we pass a law that states that if a survey of 50% of a randomly-chosen sample of 100 citizens decides that a legislator is getting too pushy, that the legislator should get a good hard slap upside the head from 12 of his constituents. I’d show up for that far more cheerfully than for Jury duty.

    -jcr

  19. I was just about to post a spanking comment, but I got up for one second and my 10 year boy jumped on and changed the page. Not quite a spanking offense. Had I told him to change it back, and he refused, computer ban for sure, spanking probably. Disrespecting someone these days can be as dangerous as running out in the street. Slightly painful punishment now could avoid more painful results down the road. And it makes me feel better too.

  20. Winecommonsewer, do you think the law should allow anyone to swat children four years and younger, or only their parents? Parents and caregivers? Parents, caregivers and folks who think that two-year-old at the mall is acting bratty?

  21. John Randolph for president! Just don’t abuse your powers, buddy, because if you do, I’ll jump in the line to smack you just as fast as I’ll get in line for Bush et al.

  22. …signed,

    Epstein’s Mother.

  23. This is class warfare and elitism at its most disgusting. Rich well educated people are very unlikly ever to be prosecuted for hitting their children. All a law like this would do is give CPS more weapons to go after people for the crime of being poor and shabby.

  24. We have never hit either of our kids – ever – and somehow, miraculously from I can tell by reading comments here, they’ve never run into the street or stuck their fingers into the light socket. And, I’ll wager, that there are many children who’ve been spanked for doing those things who still, somehow, manage to get hit by cars or have their asses shocked across the living room.

    Essentially, the motivation for hitting is somehow related to the perceived rational ability of recipient. It’s my opinion, as well as my wife’s, that all that spanking does is sends the message that “it’s okay to hit someone smaller than you when they don’t do what you want them to do”. And, if the spankee is truly not yet capable of accepting any sort of logical motivation for the desired behavior, how is that we think that they are capable of distinguishing between “well, you’re my Mommy” and “well, you’re my teacher, big brother, neighbohood bully, or other bigger person”? I realize that there aren’t many Randian Libertarians around here but THAT was pretty much central concept in Atlas Shrugged – that there is no justification fo force, physical or otherwise, unless someone uses it against you first. I feel that that holds for governments and their citizens as well as for Big People and Little People, regardless of their relationship.

    We spend an incredible amount of energy and time on this site arguing that “it’s for the children”, which is eerily close to “it’s for their own good”, is as poor a motivation as there is for instituting policy. Why that should apply to nanny-state policies (and aren’t nannies essentially surrogate parents? hmmmm…) but not parenting policies is difficult for me to fathom.

  25. If you can’t scare the crap out of your kid without laying a hand on her, you just didn’t raise her right.

    I can make nime snap to by saying her name in a certain tone of voice. I can make her cry by telling her to sit on the stairs.

    They’re like dogs – you’ve got to show them who’s boss when they’re pups, even though it’s cute to let them walk all over you when they’re little like that. If you don’t, you’re going to be fighting with them for the rest of their lives.

  26. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but I agree with joe here. Perhaps because we’ve never resorted to striking our children, simply raising our voices has a tremendous amount of impact.

  27. Joe is right, but that is not the issue. The issue is is it right to make bad parenting a crime. Yeah, you probably should be able to handle a two year old without smacking them. Since everyone is not he noble being that Joe is what do you do about the rest? I don’t think throwing them in jail for a swat on the butt is a particularly good answer to that question.

  28. Child abuse is already a crime.

    What this does is expand upon the idea that the State can better raise individual children through collective dictates than their parents can, which can be a dangerous path to follow. Will this lead to some slippery slope where the act of sending a kid to their room becomes a case of unlawful imprisonment? Probably not, but it’s something we should definitely be wary of, since generally governments always try to expand their power.

    Is spanking necessary? Maybe. Maybe not. But as a fallible human being who does not have the luxury of omniscience, I can’t definitively say that is true in every case.

  29. joe is 2/3 right, but I would only point out that dogs reinforce their dominance with the occasional nip or cuff. So I don’t see anything wrong with the occasional swat.

    And anyone who can’t tell the difference between a swat or cuff and a beating lacks the fundamental judgment to be either a parent or a legislator.

  30. The problem of this law is enforcement.

    People who spank tend to do it in private, so the major times this law will come into effect will be:

    1) Acrimonious divorces
    2) Home invasions/spying for other reasons

    Like the Washington law banning health care provider/former patient dating, it’s a stick to hit one’s enemies with when you can’t get them for something else, not an actual plan of prohibition.

  31. I stand by my assertion that spanking is not necessary. If a person were to “swat or cuff” (WTH is a cuff anyway?) another grown up, or even a child to whom they aren’t the parent, its battery, plain and simple.

    Maybe the real point is that a new law isn’t necessary. We already have laws that make striking another person a crime. Perhaps, as is so often argued here with regard to immigration, we simply need to enforce the ones that we have on the books already.

    The state certainly doesn’t know best but that doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that the parents do.

  32. “People who spank tend to do it in private, so the major times this law will come into effect will be:

    1) Acrimonious divorces
    2) Home invasions/spying for other reasons”

    That is why the law is so horrible and elitist. Good educated middle and upper class types will never come in contact with law enforcment and this law will never be an issue.

  33. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but I agree with joe here. Perhaps because we’ve never resorted to striking our children, simply raising our voices has a tremendous amount of impact.

    I raised two daughters. I don’t think we ever spanked my eldest. As soon as we middle-named her she’d stop whatever she was doing. She also listened very well, so when we said, “If you run out in the street you can get hurt” she would learn not to run out into the street. For this child the WMD consequence was a timeout from whatever book she was reading at the moment.

    She was absolutely no preparation for raising our youngest.

    Middle naming meant “go faster.” The “If you run out in the street…” explanation just gave her the idea to try it. Show her a brick wall and she had to run into it three times to convince herself it was hard. She never stayed with any one pursuit (particularly reading/watching TV) long enough that a time-out from it was effective. The only thing that slowed her down in her early years was a swat on the behind.

    She didn’t know how to learn from other people’s experience until she was twenty-five. Then all of a sudden she figured out that Mom and Dad just might know something useful.

    So we want our youngest to take care of us when we get to that point. The experiences she survived gave her a better understanding of how to handle problems. And revenge will be sweet.

    I also worked for several years with abused children in a facility setting. There spanking was useless, as pain was no longer a deterrent for these individuals.

    Disciplining young children is the process of building appropriate life habits by immediately applying positive and negative consequences to guide behavior in a desirable direction. The consequences that a child respects vary enormously with the personality and maturity of the child. The more positive and negative tools you have in your consequences toolkit, including spanking, the greater chance that some of them will work on the particular child you are disciplining.

    If a person were to “swat or cuff” (WTH is a cuff anyway?) another grown up, or even a child to whom they aren’t the parent, its battery, plain and simple.

    That’s because, except for people engaged in the justice system, we aren’t responsible for raising grownups or other peoples’ children. We are responsible for raising our own.

  34. If a person were to “swat or cuff” (WTH is a cuff anyway?) another grown up, or even a child to whom they aren’t the parent, its battery, plain and simple.

    You can do a lot of things with your child that you can’t do to anyone else. A time out would be false imprisonment, for example. Bundling them out of Toys R Us and into the car when they aren’t ready to go would be kidnapping. Etc.

    I stand by my assertion that spanking is not necessary.

    You’re welcome to your opinion. Just don’t try to foist it off on people raising their own kids (with, for example, an expanded reading of “battery”).

  35. don’t have any children yet, but I don’t see how anyone could think that its ok to hit a child.

    Once you have spanked the child once or twice, it isn’t the spanking, but the threat of future spankings that keep them in line.

    And to all of you who don’t believe it’s ever necessary…kudos to you…now leave the rest of us alone. Not all kids are the same, not all tactics work with all people. And to try and take an option off the table like that is the height of arrogance and stupidity.

  36. Larry A. I am in the the exact same situation.

    My oldest? I just need to raise an eyebrow. I could raise the dead and it wouldn’t affect my youngest.

    I haven’t spanked him yet (he’s 2 1/2), but I’ve been way closer to spanking him than my oldest. If I find out it is the only thing that works, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.

    It is ironic that these people want to take away a tool that can make some parents better in an attempt to make some parents better.

  37. But I think any time we try to pass laws that say you’ve got to protect the kids, it’s, in general, always good. So we have to find out more about it.

    Ahhnold really said this? How stupid, trite, simplistic and even George W. Bushy.

  38. Ok has it become plain enough yet. They don’t want you to spank YOUR children. They know what is best for you and your family. Why don’t we just get it over with and send them all our earnings so they can take care of us like we need to be. After all if the government can’t do it it must not be possible to begin with, right?

    Is it any wonder why William Jefferson still has not been arrested? The pols don’t even think we should be allowed to discipline our own kids, do you really think they plan on disciplining one another? Its ok little Bill, that frozen money you had wasn’t your fault, you just did what you thought was right. Do you think his parents spanked him? I think all the politicians are the ones needing to be spanked and sent home.

    So now we will not be allowed to discipline our kids, not that many parents do now anyway as evidenced by the kids we have running around like animals. But rest assured when we can no longer spank and all the kids are out of control the government will create a program to help us poor working parents to discipline our kids for us. Much the same way they created the child care issue by forcing mothers out of the home to work to make up for the tax increases the husbands checks had to cover to pay for the pols great ideas. So now they are demanding child care entitlements for a problem which they themselves created.

    Look at just about any issue and what has happened since government intervention on our behalf. Its created more of the problem they claimed to be setting out to stop from happening. This only leads to them thinking they need to do more not less, which in turn means they take away more from all of us. They can not give you anything till they have taken it from you, minus the 40% administrative fees of course.

    I vote for a roll call in Congress to line them all up for a back handed bitch slap into reality.

  39. Once you have spanked the child once or twice, it isn’t the spanking, but the threat of future spankings that keep them in line.

    Once you’ve beaten a kid up for his lunch money once or twice, the threat of future beatings will get them to hand over their lunch money.

    You can do a lot of things with your child that you can’t do to anyone else. A time out would be false imprisonment, for example. Bundling them out of Toys R Us and into the car when they aren’t ready to go would be kidnapping.

    (1) Time out inflicts no injury on the child. (2) Never spanked. Never picked up my kids because they were throwing a fit in Toys R Us. But, if these comments is any indication, most of the kids whove been forcibly draggged out of a store have been spanked. And yet, we still see previously spanked kids doing it.

    with, for example, an expanded reading of “battery”

    Expanded only in the sense that it is still legal to hit your kids in many jurisdictions. I’m not trying to expand the meaning of battery. I’m just curious as to why that exclusion exists.

    In MD, 23 of the 24 School Districts still permit the use of corporal punishment. It’s not illegal and, therefore, it’s not battery. How many of us would really say, “Well, you deserved it!” if you learned that the VP paddled your kid in the office. I’m not thinking that there’s be too many here who’d sit idly by,

  40. Time out inflicts no injury on the child.

    Nor does spanking. How hard do you think the people on this thread are hitting their kids?

    Even if they do spank, maybe they can teach their kid in 1 second what takes you 20 minutes of “timeouts” to teach yours. Hey, there you go. Opportunity cost. That’s an injury time outs can cause. Maybe while your kid is holed up in a corner “learning a lesson,” their kid is off playing, learning, loving, and living because they already learned that lesson you are still trying to teach.

    I better stop, if I keep typing I will go home and throw my time-out chair away and start spanking my kids.

  41. If a person were to “swat or cuff” (WTH is a cuff anyway?) another grown up, or even a child to whom they aren’t the parent, its battery, plain and simple.

    Once, when I was around 15, I told my mother to shut up. She slapped me. I never did it again. I respected her more for it, and I think it taught me a bit about self respect. Oh, and I recall being spanked once as a young child, so there’s that.

  42. Once, when I was around 15, I told my mother to shut up. She slapped me. I never did it again. I respected her more for it, and I think it taught me a bit about self respect.
    My sainted mother grabbed me by the hair and bounced mt head against the door frame. The same result happened. I never mouthed off to her again.

  43. The whole child spanking debate really comes down to class warefare. The bourgeois like to enforce upper class estetics as “progressive policy”.

    Of course, when you have nannies or daycare, when you have videogame consoles and toys you can take away as punishment, when you have plenty of time to spend with a child because you aren’t working 3 jobs, it is very very easy to disipline your child without spanking. I have no doubt the upper middle class yuppies on this board have no difficulty whatsoever disiplining their little darling – threatening to leave them home during next weekends ski trip to Aspen is more than enough.

    But for the vast majority of people, of every culture across the planet, and for those without great wealth here in the United States, spanking is still a reasonable form of punishment. Everybody but the economicly successful people in a handful of western countries understands that there may be situations where spanking is perfectly reasonable.

    But, of course, the rich white people of the world can’t help turning bourgeois fashion into a moral imperitive that is forced on people who can’t possibly comply. It is all about making the poor people eat cake.

  44. “If a person were to “swat or cuff” (WTH is a cuff anyway?) another grown up, or even a child to whom they aren’t the parent, its battery, plain and simple.”

    Yeah, but if a person were to fail to feed and clothe another grown up, or even a child to whom they aren’t the parent, it wouldn’t be neglect.

    I working hard on omitting ad hominems from my speech and writings, but reading tripe like yours makes that exceedingly difficult.

  45. If you can’t scare the crap out of your kid without laying a hand on her, you just didn’t raise her right.

    I can make nime snap to by saying her name in a certain tone of voice. I can make her cry by telling her to sit on the stairs.

    They’re like dogs – you’ve got to show them who’s boss when they’re pups, even though it’s cute to let them walk all over you when they’re little like that. If you don’t, you’re going to be fighting with them for the rest of their lives.

    All kids are different. My boys don’t respond to yelling at all (and I have a very strong voice…I scare other adults who are around more than my kids).
    Time-outs have only limited success too.
    So, I’ve resorted to spanking…and it works!

    Let me give you an example:
    Yesterday while I’m actively watching my 2-year-old (nearly 3), he rammed his toy truck into the TV stand. I yelled, his name and then explained to him, “The TV will fall on you if you hit it with your truck.” (it won’t really, I’ve got it secured, but I tried instilling natural fear anyway.)

    Soon, he does it again. I put him in time-out (in his room). He’s wailing like there’s no tomorrow and kicking his wall. I move him to the highchair to keep him in secured and in sight (mainly to prevent a hole in the wall). Now he’s screaming and rocking the highchair back and forth and is about to fall over. At this point, I’m fed up. I take him out, swat his butt (with my hand) and set him on the couch. It worked.

    That little swat gets his attention like nothing else does. I doubt he even felt it because he’s still in diapers, but it lets him know I mean business.

    Just because yelling works for some kids doesn’t mean it works for all.

  46. Arrrghhh, I cannot understand how anyone can call themselves a Libertarian and even entertain for a second the idea that spanking another human being is OK (unless it’s an adult who want to get spanked).
    Children are human. They have less experience, maturity and wisdom than adults… but they are still human, all of the arguments we libertarians make about individual rights stand on our essence as rational beings, and say nothing about maturity, age, knowledge, experience or wisdom. If it is wrong to initiate force against another adult it is wrong to initiate it against a child… and for the same reasons.
    I have two kids. My job as a parent is to take on the responsibilities that the kids are not ready to take on for themselves because of their lack of experience. There are only 3 basic rules in my house 1) Cannot harm others 2) Cannot harm yourself and 3) Cannot harm someone else’s property. I might physically restrain them when any of these is imminent, I might (very briefly) separate one of them into a different area of the house when their emotions are out of control and one of the rules has been broken. But I would never ever spank a kid! Timeouts are just as bad!
    People, how can you possibly justify bullying a child? Don’t you get it? By spanking you are taking the responsibility for the child’s actions, instead of teaching responsibility you are teaching the opposite.
    And same goes for most forms of praise. There’s an excellent book on the subject “Punished By Rewards” by Alfie Kohn.
    As to how a Libertarian can raise a child, there’s also a few books on the subject, one that comes to mind is “Super Parents Super Children” by Frances Kendall. She really hones in on the “kids are rational” theme.
    I’m not sure if a law is required (particularly because I cringe at any law that would require people inside my house for getting it enforced). But I can recognize the “there ought to be a law trigger” on this one.

  47. Oh yeah, I also hate people who use the word “consequences” as an euphemism for punishment/reward. The consequence of putting your fingers in a socket is NOT going to your room without dinner, it is getting an electric shock. As much as possible and when safe, children have to be allowed to experience the direct, real world consequences (good and bad) of their actions. A child who hits his brother will experience the consequence of his brother hitting back, getting separated from the family for a bit, etc. Natural consequences people!
    And oh, yeah…. have you tried reasoning with them? Mine are 6 and 4… converse (not lecture) with them and you’ll be surprised how smart they are.

  48. Even if they do spank, maybe they can teach their kid in 1 second what takes you 20 minutes of “timeouts” to teach yours. Hey, there you go. Opportunity cost. That’s an injury time outs can cause. Maybe while your kid is holed up in a corner “learning a lesson,” their kid is off playing, learning, loving, and living because they already learned that lesson you are still trying to teach.
    When you spank (or use a timeout) you are not teaching: you are training. Two very different things.

  49. “I cannot understand how anyone can call themselves a Libertarian and even entertain for a second the idea that spanking another human being is OK”

    I can’t believe that anyone that calls themself a libertarian thinks they know what the best way for other people to raise their child is, and is willing to use the force of the government to ensure it.

    ps – what is the “natural consequence” of running out into traffic?

  50. Also, when your child sticks his finger in an electrical socket and gets shocked while you stood directly over him and didn’t try to stop him, just what are you “training” him to think about you?

  51. I’m almost embarrassed to admit it but I agree with joe here.

    Same here, except I am not embarrassed. My dad was an angry man whose lessons on childrearing came from West Point and it was a categorical disaster. The only thing he taught me about childrearing was how not to do it. I have never touched my children and cannot imagine feeling the need to hurt them. If the child is under the age of reason you don’t slap them when they go for an outlet you put a cover on the outlet. You don’t spank them for running in the road you prevent them from doing it. Once they are old enough to let go of their hands (literally and metaphorically) you start the reasoning thing.

    I sum it up as this: With a few exceptions, if you do your job as a parent From Day 1 you will never need to hit your children. Not all kids who are spanked will be fucked up but I see no reason to gamble with their futures. And if the act of spanking your child is even remotely cathartic you are fooling yourself into believing it is harmless to them

    That being said, this is not something for the state to further involve itself in. There is no need to interject into the parenting philosophies I see in most advocates of corporal punishment in this thread. The state already has an obligation to children who are being abused.

  52. Spanking is like voting or circumcision, I think. Your first and really only obligation is to think about it. Spanking out of anger or reflexively is not the best way to spank. But I think that not spanking because you think it’s abuse is a way to make yourself feel superior.

    I worked for many years with kids from 4 to 18 who spat at me, cursed my mother, attacked me with scissors and chairs. My colleagues and I were able to change the behaviors of most (though certainly not all) of these kids without ever causing them physical discomfort.

    I only say that not to condemn people who choose to spank, but to point out that it’s a choice, rather than any kind of necessity.

    And I’ll add that any efforts by the state to regulate it are typically pointless.

  53. PI guy when I got whipped in school it was usually for a good reason looking back. Then not only did I get that spankin I got one when I got home too for having got a spanking at school. Damn it wasn’t that long ago either, now days parents let their kids run around like maniacs and do nothing to control them. Obliviots that breed is all they seem to be.

    When I was younger if you were at a friends house you acted on your best behavior because you knew their dad had permission to smack your ass if you got out of hand, also again knowing you would get it when you got home for doing it in the 1st place.

    Perhaps thats the problem in that no one respects anyone else. Way to many “families,” out there with no father figure at all much less any real discipline.

    I never resented my parents for making me behave, sure I may have thought they sucked at times but no matter what you do kids will think that about mom and dad for something or another. But to look back they did nothing wrong in doing those things to me.

    My daughter just left for college and she dare I say it got her arse whipped a few times but much less than me or her mother as kids. Why because she didn’t screw up as much as we did, I was not a overbearing child beater because I was disciplined by my parents.

    Time Out thats so cute, time out little Timmy.. Yeah time out Timmy I am about to whip your ass, then send you to time out to let it sink into your long term memory as your ass stings. Sending a kid to time out is ridiculous after doing it once or twice they know geee all I have to do is sit here for 5 minutes and I am free. Where the thought of hmmm if I do this again I will get my ass beat again has a more powerful longer lasting message behind it, no pun intended.

  54. I can’t believe that anyone that calls themself a libertarian thinks they know what the best way for other people to raise their child is, and is willing to use the force of the government to ensure it.

    Politically, and as a Libertarian I agree, it is very little of my business how you raise your kids (though some abuse should obviously be society’s concern), but as a parent and educator (no, I’m not a teacher, but I’m a very involved parent and co-op parent at my kids school) I have a strong opinion on punishment and rewards.

    Also, when your child sticks his finger in an electrical socket and gets shocked while you stood directly over him and didn’t try to stop him, just what are you “training” him to think about you?

    Of course not, read my statements again, that comes under the “harming oneself” category, and preventing their harm before they can reason is our jobs, but can’t you find a less abusive way of preventing them from doing so than a slap? As another poster mentioned: before they can understand just cover the outlet and look after the kid 24 hours a day, as they gain knowledge, experience and understanding use reason, show them what electricity can do, experiment with a 9 volt battery, *** educate *** your children!

  55. Moreover:

    Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent
    – Isaac Asimov

  56. Sorry, I can’t stop thinking about this, and I’m on a roll..

    Think about this: When your children grow up, do you want them to abstain from stealing because it is illegal or because it is wrong? When you spank a child you are encouraging the earlier thought, children learn that they get punished when (and if) they get caught. They are much more inclined to stick their finger in a socket when you are not looking. To kids educated by punishment/rewards it is the getting caught that is wrong, not the activity itself. A similar thing happens with rewards: kids live for the words of “good job” from the parent’s mouth, they derive pleasure from the parent, not from the activity itself.

    Of course, many parents might say: “I don’t care why they behave as long as they do so”. To them I suggest that they just get a dog or learn to program a computer, it is much more likely to give you satisfaction in that regard.

  57. Spanking is like voting or circumcision, I think. Your first and really only obligation is to think about it.

    How perceptive. I don’t know about voting. But Circumcision and spanking are very similar, and IMO both wrong. The only reason some of us do them is because our parents did them. I come from a Jewish family, yet when it came time to think about my son I did the research and figured that just because a piece of me was sliced when I was 8 days old I did not have to retaliate against my son (so what? mine looks different from his, big deal). Libertarians (I imagine) are more likely to allow themselves to break the chains of stupid myths and traditions, and if you want to feel Jewish eat all the matzo ball soup and gefilte fish you want.

    Are you spanking because your parents did so? OK, so it worked with you, it may even work for your children, that still doesn’t make it right and there are still other options.

  58. Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent

    I agree also with your assessment about whether kids behave because it’s the right thing or because they don’t want to get caught doing the wrong thing.

    …I suggest that they just get a dog…

    And to that, I say, I’ve never even hit our dog. Not ever. It was never necessary. And he doesn’t need to be on a leash when we’re in the yard (no fence) and everyone in the neighborhood, bus stop, etc., knows Mickey. When they say “you’re so lucky to have gotten such a good dog” we have to bite our tongue (actually, Mrs. Pi is not so diplomatic in this regard) and not say “it’s not luck”. We’re just in charge.

    Different people and different dogs might be different. If you think that the bad ones need to be hit to behave (or, is it to comply?), please refer to the Asimov quote above.

  59. ..I suggest that they just get a dog…

    And to that, I say, I’ve never even hit our dog. Not ever. It was never necessary. And he doesn’t need to be on a leash when we’re in the yard (no fence) and everyone in the neighborhood, bus stop, etc., knows Mickey. When they say “you’re so lucky to have gotten such a good dog” we have to bite our tongue (actually, Mrs. Pi is not so diplomatic in this regard) and not say “it’s not luck”. We’re just in charge.

    Yeah, I wasn’t sure about a dog when I wrote that. Funny, we are getting our first family dog this week (waiting for it) and I’ve been reading about this, some newer trainers (as well as newer research) agrees with this, that violence is less effective *even* on a dog. Why would it be OK on a human.

  60. Children are human. They have less experience, maturity and wisdom than adults… but they are still human, all of the arguments we libertarians make about individual rights stand on our essence as rational beings,

    A two-year-old might be a rational being at some point in the future, but she isn’t one now.

  61. A two-year-old might be a rational being at some point in the future, but she isn’t one now.

    Mhhh, if you have kids I suggest you go see the doctor. OK, that was a bit harsh. Two year olds may not win national poli-sci debates, but in their own simple way you can reason with them, that goes even more so for 3, 4, 5 and above of course.

    And… are you saying you spank your 2 year old? Yikes! Go beat on someone your own size! If you don’t believe they are rational enough to understand simple things you think they are rational enough to understand the difference between mommy giving love and mommy spanking?

    At age two they need almost constant supervision, if they are about to do something dangerous you have to stop them, but that is different.

    At age two kids need love and hugs, they need supervision, they need attention, they need play. They most absolutely do NOT need spanking.

  62. This is just my opinion, but I don’t see how anyone with an IQ over 80 could actually support spanking.

    Trying to condition human beings by hitting them just seems like something only a stupid or very cruel person would do. Unless you believe human beings are inferior to dogs.

    Okay, maybe some people with average or above intelligence, but not “thinkers.”

  63. JSub, been there. Told Ma to shut up. She was short but she backhanded me so hard across the chest that I flew backward into one of those wall heaters with the grate. It put a permanent concave shape to the grill. I never did it again.

    Parse, children are best when they are well done.

  64. JohnC, the problem is that you are confusing hitting with spanking. I survived a lot worse than I’ve ever dished out to my own kids, some of which could be classified as hitting. Sometimes it was effective. I can tell you what didn’t work though. No matter how many times Ma stuck a bar of soap in my mouth I still cussed like a sailor.

  65. It’s pretty clear which side I’m on, but I don’t find the “non-initiation of force” argument terribly compelling in this instance. I am initiating force when I grab my daughter by the arm and lead her, against her will, into the house. If she doesn’t sit on the stairs when directer, I pick her up and carry her kicking and screaming onto the stairs. Those are both initiations of force.

    And since when are libertarians not allowed to have opinions about the best way for people to do things? Hey, Badmood, if you try to jumpstart your car by attaching the positive terminal of the other car to the negative terminal of your own, that’s really effing stupid. You are not doing it right; you are making a foolish decision. If you think it is best to jump start a car that way, then I know better than you. Quick, call Simon Weisenthal, there’s a fascist on the thread…

  66. A two-year-old might be a rational being at some point in the future, but she isn’t one now.

    And I don’t think that you’re teaching them anything about being rational if you hit them and, TWC, I’m afraid spanking is hitting.

    when I got whipped in school it was usually for a good reason looking back

    If you’re saying that you deserved to be punished for doing something wrong, that might be the case. But, unless you hit your mother, you absolutely, unequivocally did NOT deserve to be hit.

    Just because your parents did it to you and you turned out okay – whatever that means – doesn’t mean that it was right or that it works better than other less violent (sorry – it is absolutely violence) methods. I think that, much as in the case of religous beliefs, it is difficult for people to critically evaluate what they’ve been conditioned across generations to think of as acceptable or reasonable.

  67. balko =

    I was mostly kidding too. I understand that what with the warp drive-speed of information dissemination these days, that often no one can take credit for scooping something that 1000s of other people do so as well. (insert something intelligenty from Marshall McLuhan). It’s just the selfish favor-seeking instinct. If I really wanted to be acknowledged that bad, I’d start my own blog.

    It seems like people have issues here with something being ‘imperfect behavior’ and something being ‘law’. Just because Spanking is or isnt good for kids (I’m sure some socoial scientists have written competing theories), does not have much to do with whether the state has any say in the matter. If we all agree on that, then the rest of discussion is some nerd-guys version of Prevention or Oprah’s Guide to Good Parenting. Honestly, I’m not sure you’re the most credible panel of participants either. How many women here with kids? Thanks

  68. Note that NOT ONCE have I suggested that the law dictate how children should be raised. To summarize:
    – I have compared spanking to every other form of striking another person. There already exists laws against that sort of behavior.
    – I have tried to convince others here that effective parenting is possible without hitting your child. Ever.
    – Further, it’s my opinion that spanking has more potential for damage than good – at least for the child. For the most part, the arguments presented here in support of spanking are mostly about what’s easier or less time-consuming for the parent.

    I don’t believe that the goal of parenting is to find the easist path for the grown-up but to find the way that is best for the child in the long run.

  69. “Note that NOT ONCE have I suggested that the law dictate how children should be raised. To summarize:
    – I have compared spanking to every other form of striking another person. There already exists laws against that sort of behavior.”

    Oh, thats clear…. 🙂

    You say you dont suggest that spanking should be regulated by law, but you do suggest that spanking is comparable to (and part 0f) to ‘every other form of striking another person’… for which laws already exist… ergo?….

    Seriously man, if you really dont care about the law applying to spankers… than whats your @(*#)@ point? That you are wise in the ways of parenting, and that spanking leads only to the dark side? I dont see any point in your comments other than to highlight your personal moral superiority. If you take the whole law angle out of this, it’s not a “PRO SPANKING VS. ANTI SPANKING” debate….it was a debate about what areas of life should be legislated. We can all agree beating children is Bad Stuff… but you arent particularly unique in coming to that conclusion. The question is whether you think Good Parenting should be regulated. And you duck that above, in favor of “wont someone think of the children” rhetoric. The Children are government’s favorite excuse to regulate everything from Video Games to Music to Smoking to Consensual Sex…. arguing that Spanking Codes are stupid and unecessary in no way is affected by your point that Spanking itself is stupid and unecessary.

  70. The idea that children are people with rights that need protecting … a radical idea, no?

    I wonder whether the some of the people here would also be against domestic violence laws … ‘it’s the state, telling you how to run your marriage!’

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.