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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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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Kevin Paglia posted at 11:45 am on Thu, Jan 30, 2014.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2027

    If spanking has aught you nothing more than violence, then YOUR spanking was administered wrong.

    When I was spanked it taught me what I was doing was wrong enough to warrant immediate correction. Spanking is NOT done to HURT, it is done to get the attention. If it is causing more pain than you get clapping your hands, you are hitting, not spanking.

    And I have known a lot of people VERY screwed up because their parents never spanked them. They have no fear of consequences for their action. View authority figures as the enemy. And treat others as disposable.

  • Todd Cronin posted at 9:58 am on Mon, Jan 27, 2014.

    Todd Posts: 119

    Two observations:

    Norm Lee has NEVER been "spanked".
    There is NO such thing as "unreasonable spanking",,,,
    as long as it is done for "friendly purposes".......[wink]

  • Brian Dockter posted at 7:34 am on Mon, Jan 27, 2014.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2839


    I believe the judge determined it 'reasonable discipline' because there was no evidence the bruises were caused by an 'unreasonable use of force'. The vast majority of parents using a wooden spoon is not meant to abuse a child. Including this case. Let's not make it more than it is.

  • Eric Barrow posted at 12:16 pm on Sun, Jan 26, 2014.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1533

    My Mom wore out many a wooden spoon with 5 boys and no wooden spoon she would not have stood a chance.

  • Walter Chang posted at 8:00 pm on Sat, Jan 25, 2014.

    Walt Posts: 1125

    "wooden spoon"

    No, it was more like a large chop stick.

    You learned real quick.

    Never my father, it was my maternal grandmother we had to watch out for!!

    But I digress...



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