Friday, January 28, 2005

Spare the Rod Tazer, Spoil the Child?

Heard a weird/scary story on yesterday's Benajmin Dover show about a father who used a stun gun to discipline his 14-year-old son. Here's an excerpt:
Meet Douglas Dycus. The 40-year-old Florida man was charged yesterday with felony child abuse and domestic battery for allegedly using a stun gun to discipline his 14-year-old son. Dycus, an engineer with a Palm Beach firm, admitted to cops that he used the electrical device on the boy when the child was wrestling with a brother and holding up the family's departure from their home last month. Instead of pulling the boys apart, Dycus--who said the children were "not listening"--went to his dresser drawer and pulled out the stun gun, which he used to zap his son on the arm.
As always, read the whole thing.

Now, I think most reasonable people would agree that using the stun gun was excessive, but the radio show did raise the question of how much, if any, corporal punishment is even allowed to be used today before the parents get brought up on charges. Spank the kids at school, and the lawyers come running in; spank them at home, and Child Protective Services may take them away from you. But the question is this: How much discipline is too much, and does physical discipline have a place in today's society?

I'll admit that I don't have an answer on this one, and, as someone who's not a parent yet, I probably lack the perspective to have a truly balanced opinion as it is. I think I may well be a fence-sitter on this, because I really can see two sides to the story: One, it makes me really uncomfortable to see someone smacking the crap out of their kid in a public place (and causes me to wonder what goes on when nobody's looking), and I certainly agree that the potential for abuse exists if parents use corporal punishment out of anger instead of as a disciplinary device. But on the other hand, it seems like the threat of a whippin' provided the smallest element of fear in a kid that I don't necessarily see in young people today. Just knowing that there might be a (physically) painful aftermath seemed to deter some truly bad behavior when I was a kid, and yes, I saw the business end of my mom's Kappa Delta paddle way too many times for a while there. As many adults would add to that last statement, "but I turned out OK," yet I'm sure there were contemporaries of mine who were truly abused in such a manner and are passing that behavior on to their own kids.

So let me throw this one out to the readers (and since I now have Site Meter, I know there are more than "the four of you" that I always joke about): 1) Does anyone not think that using the stun gun was going overboard, and 2) Would the return of corporal punishment act as an effective deterrent to bad behavior in the home and the school? Anyone can comment, but if you're not registered with Blogger and are using the "anonymous" mode, please identify yourself in the body of your comment.


Steven said...

This is a mini-soap box of mine. Not even a soap box really. Let's call it a shampoo container. ;)

My brother and I were born right at the end of the generation when spanking was still considered just discipline. Nowadays, you're right, a cold stare will get your kids taken away. As with most hot button issues, there is a grey area.

The reason why I think my brother and I didn't turn out looney in the end is because we knew the spanking was because we did something wrong, as opposed to mom and dad just being mean. I think that is where the major distinction needs to be made if corporal punishment is implemented. Then the child gets the message that A). I'm being punished because I did something I wasn't supposed to, as opposed to B.) My parents are just hitting me.

Certainly corporal punishment isn't a necessary part of raising a kid ,but it sure is the funnest(j/k). Of course, there should be limits to what a parent can do(promising as cattle prods are, no no!). It should be brief, because a prolonged act does cause scarring, no matter what. It shouldn't be considered the bane of parenting. Discipline and abuse are 2 different things, and as long as all parties get that, everything is good.

Eric Grubbs said...

As a person who has lived with anxiety problems all his life, I've been more afraid of upsetting my parents than anything else. I don't remember being spanked many times, but I just feared making them mad. Since they were such an intergral part of me growing up without many friends close by, I didn't like being around tension that I felt I caused. Since they're not close by, I try to make a tense-free life for myself. It's very tough in spots and in others, it's very peaceful.

What I do know is that I am not a fan of raising a child through fear and intimidation by his/her parents. I know people call it "tough love" but when you're getting physically or emotionally hit (no matter how hard or how soft), the "love" part gets lost. It's only after you tire of hating your parents for being such jerks that you understand why they did it in the first place.

Granted, I am a single, childless male with no intention of changing this description any time soon. I hate calling it "soul-searching," but I'm just trying to find my own stable path. So in the case of capitol punishment, I have a view that is a different from the parental mindset.