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Letter: Spanking is not ‘reasonable discipline’

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Posted: Saturday, January 25, 2014 12:00 am

The news brief “Court upholds mother’s right to spank daughter” on Page 2 of the Lodi News-Sentinel, Jan. 22, reports a San José judge found a “mom” used “reasonable discipline” in “spanking” her 12-year-old daughter with a wooden spoon. The maltreatment was inflicted — causing bruises on the child — for “slacking off in school.”

As a (retired) professor of education in two great universities (Syracuse University and State University of New York) I find such an opinion outrageous and ignorant for reasons below:

1. Committing violence on a child — bruises or not — is certainly not “reasonable” and not “discipline.”

2. Using a blunt instrument is not “spanking,” it is “beating”; i.e., flagrant child abuse.

3. Such cruelty is not a “parental right”; similar treatment of an adult — or even a dog — is criminal and actionable.

4. It cannot work. Punishing stops learning abruptly, since full attention must be given to avoiding pain and humiliation.

5. “Slacking off” in middle school and junior high is a normal stage in developing toward maturity.

6. The Santa Clara Department of Social Services was correct in reporting it as child abuse to the California Justice Department of Child Abuse Central Index.

Norm Lee


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