Thursday, April 24, 2008

Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child

"He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently." -Proverbs 13:24

This world is one upside down place.

My role is pastor to students and parents. I was talking with a parent about measures to correct the direction a child was going. This young one is now a teenager and has never really had any discipline in his life. Most of my suggestions were rather simple things a parent can do to partner with teachers and/or other parents to help young ones develop good habits.

But the question was asked, "what do I do when they rebel against these things"? Every situation of when a child does something wrong needs its own kind of punishment, but a time comes when spanking the child is the proper course of action. Well this brought up something shocking!

Florida's Child Abuse Law is worded like this:
"Harm" to a child occurs when the parent or other person responsible for the child's welfare inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical, mental, or emotional injury. The following factors must be considered in evaluating any injury: prior injuries; location; multiplicity; and type of trauma. Such injury include, but are not limited to willful acts that produce the following specific injuries: sprains, dislocations, or cartilage damage; bone or skull fractures; brain or spinal cord damage; intracranial hemorrhage or injury to other internal organs; asphyxiation, suffocation, or drowning; injury resulting from the use of a deadly weapon; burns or scalding; cuts, lacerations, punctures, or bites; permanent or temporary disfigurement; or permanent or temporary loss or impairment of a body part or function. "Willful" refers to the intent to perform an action, not to achieve a particular result or an intent to cause an injury.
Sec. 415.503. [Civil Code]

I placed certain parts in bold to make the problem clear. But the problem is not the law, but rather, how it is apparently being enforced. A case was cited to me where a child received a spanking. The child then called social services (which he learned to do from a teacher) and without any validity to the child's claim they responded with force making threats that if this happens again they will remove the child from that home. Who do you think is in control of that household now?

I understand that we need laws to protect our children from harmful and dangerous parents, but this is ridiculous. The way social services enforces the law in Florida (at least in Indian River County; and this was quote to me from more than one person as I talked with them separately) is that if any indication of a spanking that can be seen 20 minutes after the incident then it is child abuse. Also, if the child is unable to use their butt to sit (notice "impairment of a body part or function") then it is child abuse.

There were a few spankings I got as a child that when I look back I remember them being pretty rough, mostly because I squirmed so much that my mom or dad missed their target (my bottom), but I now look back on the spankings I got with some fondness. Not that I enjoyed the pain, but rather, those disciplinary actions impacted me greatly. For one, it told me to shut up and listen to my dad. It helped me understand consequences for my actions (something most of today's youth really don't understand). I know my spankings didn't come from a mother or father who lashed out at me because they were tired of whatever I was doing wrong. I had a mother and father who feared what would happen to me and who I would become if spankings were absent from my life.

North Carolina, where I recently moved from, words their child abuse laws this way:
Abuse includes infliction of a serious physical injury by other than accidental means; creating a substantial risk of such injury by other than accidental means; and using cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or devices to modify behavior. Juvenile Sec. 7B-101(1). [Civil Code]

I'm sure there are cases where this law is being abused in North Carolina as well. But I've never been introduced to areas that handle spanking like where I am now, but I've heard that many states are just as bad.

When it comes to writing and enforcing laws I would say this would be a tough one. I mean, you don't want to see a child beaten to near death before someone jumps in to stop it. You want to catch it before it even starts. But how to do enforce laws meant to protect our children without removing proper ways to raise a child.


Pattie said...

PARENTS WAKE UP!!!what is the worst that could happen "you could have peace in the home".We need to teach children that there is a consequence to everything you do or say. If they go that far they have lost total respect for their family because they have none for themselves.Parents need to think about the family they have left to raise. Let Department of Social Services put them into foster care and be with a family who cares about them and when they turn 18 out the door cause the check stopped from Department of Social Services.There is a consequent result to the choices you make in life. "EDUCATE THEM"

elj377 said...

Preach it! I am often faced with no parental involvement on the disciplinary level because they say they love their kids to much to discipline them. My answer is that I love my kids so much and one way that I show it is by disciplining them. We need more people reinforcing this positive message! A spanking is not abuse unless it becomes a beating!

Megan & Company said...

For what it is worth, a spanking doesn't always equal discipline and a home without spanking does not always mean a home without discipline.

TerryKM said...

@ Megan. . .I would definitely agree that not every situation calls for a spanking (and it wouldn't shock me if some children are created in such a way that they don't need to be spanked ever) and there are certainly those who are receiving spankings improperly (sometimes abusively and sometimes as a poor choice of disciplinary action). . .but where spankings are needed but are not given, that's the problem I was addressing.