"If it was good enough for me, it's good enough for them other people."
If TDP staffers had a dime for every time time we've seen or heard a variation on that phrase, we could all retire to Hawaii and spend our days and nights surfing and feasting at luaus. It's the modern take on claims an older generation made about walking to school every day in the snow, uphill – both ways. It's spouted from the mouths of those of us who paid back student loans and are now bitter some "kid" won't have to. And it's being said by those who think corporal punishment should be brought back to schools.
We should consider it might be another assault on public education, albeit a more subtle one. Kids these days are "soft" and disrespectful, they say. The latter adjective was used countless times during the TDP Saturday Forum on Sept. 17. This particular forum drew more participation than any in months – and corporal punishment was the topic. The demise of that form of discipline was blamed for the failings of today's kids: lack of respect, lack of direction, and in one case, "lack of conservative values."
Some observers seemed surprised that more respondents approved of corporal punishment than not. The same was true of the TDP website poll. But we weren't surprised in the least. This is an area of the country where "spare the rod, spoil the child" reigns supreme. Only "bleeding-heart liberals" – that's the kindest way they put it – oppose spanking children, so that must mean the "board of education" is the best way to get the job done. But is it? Neutral observers tend to believe the "experts" – those folks who have studied certain topics for years, and who adhere to science – even if it's a "soft" science like psychology.
Almost all employees of TDP, ranging in age from 18 to 63, were spanked by their parents, with varying degrees of frequency and severity. Though we run the gamut of political and religious beliefs, we think our acquaintances would agree we've turned out OK, even if we're not millionaires with mansions in Beverly Hills or Miami. The same could be said for anyone reading this now. We'd probably all say that for the most part, we're well-adjusted adults who contribute to society and care about those around us.
But are we really well-adjusted? Do any of us have idiosyncries, insecurities, depression, and self-esteem issues that might – at least, according to "experts" – be attributed to corporal punishment, at least to a small degree? It's worth considering – which is what some hard-nosed educators who once wielded paddles with great efficiency have come to believe.
Very few experts would say a surly, insolent child got that way because he wasn't spanked enough. They would blame it on something else – lack of parental involvement, perhaps. And those of us who have become responsible, sensitive and successful adults didn't get that way because we got spanked; some would say we got that way in spite of it. Perhaps we were lucky enough to have parents who were engaged, intuitive, and supportive, even if they did wield a belt or board on occasion.
Parents need to stop expecting schools to raise their children. It doesn't escape notice that some of the parents who nod vigorously in approval of a good "whuppin'" would themselves be the first to squawk if a teacher dared raise a hand to their children. That's hypocrisy, which seems all too pervasive these days.
Those who favor spanking insist it's not "beating," and perhaps it's not. But they should consider the possibility that educators – who have studied the issues and made observations over the years – might have a better way.