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What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers

What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers
Keeping Children Safe

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gun Violence: Where is the Outrage?

The most recent mass shootings in Santa Barbara, California gives me great pause. I cannot help but wonder where the outrage is from responsible gun owners and from the gun manufacturers.
I should think that those who support gun rights would be appalled by the use of guns in violent shooting sprees that have countlessly resulted the in loss of innocent lives, especially young lives – lives of children. The opposite reaction seems to be the result, however. After these incidents, the response from many gun owners is redoubling of gun rights protections. When will the supposedly responsible gun owners and gun rights advocates denounce the violent gun culture in our country?
As the father of one of the victims of the Santa Barbara shootings stated, “You think it won't happen to you. How many more people will have to experience gun violence before attitudes shift?”
Second Amendment rights come with responsibilities. Responsible gun owners and manufacturers need to lead the charge on responsible gun rights and laws. But where are they?
 A large part of the blame for our country’s history of mass killings with firearms can be placed on the senseless lobbying efforts of the National Rifle Association and the tragically lax U.S. gun laws. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said on Sunday that he wanted to bring back gun-control legislation that was proposed after Sandy Hook but which fell in the Senate.
It is time for a change. To quote, Richard Martinez, the father of one of the Isla Vista mass shooting victims, Christopher Michaels Martinez, “Not one more!”  Please take a stand in the fight against gun violence and the struggle for more stringent gun control legislation by signing the postcard sending the message, “Not one more!” to your elected officials.

Picture credit: Christopher Bruno




Monday, May 5, 2014

Corporal Punishment: Is Spanking Children an Effective Discipline

Spanking children is a controversial issue. Opinions vary as to whether or not spanking is an effective discipline. Corporal punishment is deliberate infliction of pain to deter misbehavior. Spanking is one form of corporal punishment. Spanking children has fallen in disfavor among many parents. Researchers studying its effectiveness find there are many disadvantages and a few advantages.


Gabe Griffin, a Pediatric Psychologist in West Michigan, warns that spanking can get out of hand. He asserts that parents sometimes think that their spanking is performed in a controlled manner, but frequently it's not well-controlled, especially in the heat of anger. He believes parents can better improve children’s behavior by teaching and praising  them. Time-outs and removing privileges are often successful, according to Griffin, but they focus on misbehavior. Griffin believes it’s preferable to focus on good behavior and praise children when they do it correctly.

Dr. Peter Newell, coordinator of End Punishment of Children, maintains that there is one important argument against spanking children. Dr. Newell says, "All people have the right to protection of their physical integrity, and children are people too."

According to authorities from  The Natural Child Project, there are compelling disadvantages to spanking children.
1.     Research shows a connection between spanking children and aggressive behavior of those children when they become adults.
2.     Some children who misbehave do so in response to neglected needs, such as sufficient sleep, nutrition, and a healthy, happy environment. Such children crave their parent’s time and attention. Spanking children for responding instinctively to neglect seems unwarranted.
3.     Spanking children prevents them from learning humane conflict resolution. It makes children fearful and angry, and isn’t effective in the long term. Educator John Holt summed it up in saying, "When we make a child afraid, we stop learning dead in its tracks."
4.     Many people justify spanking with the Bible quote, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”  The rod in connection to parenting is mentioned in the Book of Proverbs, attributed to the cruel Solomon. The Gospels, however, contain the teachings of Jesus Christ who advocated mercy, non-violence, and love, not punishment.
5.     Spanking children only produces short-termed cooperation based on fear. Spanking negatively affects parent - child bonding. Good behavior should be facilitated by bonds of mutual respect and love. Discipline done with respect and love, rather than spanking, promotes good behavior that can last a lifetime.
6.     Tom Johnson wrote in his book, The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children (2002), “Since children are sexual beings and since the buttocks are a sexual region of the body, we should question the propriety of slapping children’s buttocks. We generally understand that fondling or caressing a child’s buttocks is a sexual offense (even if the child does not understand it to be so). We also know that slapping an adult’s buttocks is a sexual offense (even if the offender does not get sexual pleasure from doing so). The question, then, is why slapping a child’s buttocks is not considered a sexual offense.”
7.     Even moderate spanking can be physically harmful. Infliction of blows to the lower end of the spinal column can injure a child.
8.     Spanking sends children the message that inflicting  pain on someone smaller and less powerful is acceptable. Such a message can motivate children to hit smaller and younger children.
9.     Children model their parent’s behavior. If children observe their parents solving problems through hitting, rather than through calm, reasonable, humane ways, they will never learn humane conflict resolution.
10.  Many parents never learned in childhood that there are positive ways to relate to children. If parents are unaware of alternative discipline, spanking can escalate and become more frequent and dangerous.


Despite evidence supporting the negative impact of spanking children, there are those who believe spanking children is effective with positive outcomes. Studies done by Marjorie Gunnoe, a Calvin College Psychology Professor, find that some individuals who recall spankings when they were children tended to perform better academically in school, and tended to be more optimistic and charitable than those who didn’t received spankings on their backsides. Gunnoe’s studies, it must be noted, contradict theories that children who are spanked are more aggressive than those who aren’t.

Gunnoe asserts, however, that her findings should not be considered a call for spanking children, but the findings should be taken into consideration in the event that lawmakers consider banning spanking. She claims that her findings should be taken into account by people who want to legally limit how parents decide to discipline their children. She claims not to promote spanking but feels that there is no hard evidence to make spanking on the backside illegal.

In conclusion, there are varied opinions and research findings about corporal punishment. Parents should consider pros and cons of any form of punishment before deciding how to discipline their children.

Picture credit:  Jason Nelson