Friday, April 5, 2013

When Discipline Goes Too Far

Take a look at the video in the link above. Here, you will see a father beating his two daughters with a wire cable (or 'stention cord) after he caught them "twerking" on Facebook. You will see many definitions of twerking on Urban Dictionary, but it bascially means dancing in a sexually-suggestive manner. While the father no doubt felt disgraced by his daughters' public behavior, he may have felt that by beating them, he was saving them from teen pregnancy, prostitution, rape, and death. The mother, reportedly, disagreed and had the father arrested.

When one looks at videos such as this, there are often two polar responses. First, there are those of upper or middle classes, usually of European or East Asian descent--and mostly likely of younger generations--who are shocked and dismayed by this. They say, "How brutal! How evil of the father! Lock him up and throw away the key! He should have talked to the children!"

Then there would be those who saw the video who sided with the father. These are usually those who are Southern, working-or-lower-class individuals, typically Afro-Americans. They will say, "Those girls got what they deserved, and only a father who cares would give it to them. If only we had more of such old-school punishment; we would see less crime. Besides, no one has the right to tell a parent how to raise their children." Some of the same parents take it a step further by saying, "To punish a Black parent for whipping their children is just a form of racism. This same government won't help us raise our children. It will just lock them up when they grow up because we didn't whip them. Then they blame the parents for not disciplining them."

Those who know me best know that I am usually strict about raising children. I believe that today's children have it too easy. So many of them are spoiled with expensive clothes and technology, and they don't appreciate what they have. They complain when they are expected to do chores, yet they still want to get allowances. They would rather stay inside and play video games than go out and earn money by raking leaves and shoveling snow. Worst of all, they call their parents names and swear at them. Few things make me cringe more. I don't care how old you get or how much you deserve it; using even the mildest of foul language in front of your parents--especially your mother--is very disrespectful. (My own mother would stop me mid-sentence and say "Watch your mouth. Who do you think you are talk to?")

All of what I mentioned in the last paragraph would not stand on the block where I grew up. Most parents were not shy to discipline and did not use the belt (or 'stention cord for severe offenses) sparingly. In fact, parents compared methods whilst sitting on the porch. Teens joked about it while jumping rope or shooting hoops. And children old enough to survive it but young enough to not fight back feared it. While I recount these things in an almost sentimental light, there is nothing sweet or funny about corporal punishment. First, it teaches the child to fear the parent, and fear is a major barrier to true learning and even love. Second, it teaches the child that the only way to get what you want is through violence. Third, and this is for those who feel that corporal punishment is the way to keep children out of the legal system, corporal punishment creates just as many criminals as no punishment at all. This is a statistical fact. In fact, I am certain that out of those doing the killing in Englewood and other parts of Chicago's Southside, there were just as many who had gotten whippings growing up as there were those who were allowed to run wild. I am pretty sure if a woman had to choose between getting "whupped" as a child to raped as an adult, she would choose the former, but that does not make the "whupping" any better. It is still traumatic. No matter how much the father apologizes, they will feel that beating for the rest of their lives, even when the wound and welts heal. They will fear their father for a little while, then resent him a little longer.

The question one may ask, therefore, is "Who is right?" The truth is, no one is right. The entertainment industry is wrong for poisoning the heads of our children with such immoral filth we hear in songs and and see  in dance steps. The girls were wrong disrespecting themselves and their parents by twerking in front of, essentially, the entire world. The father, finally, was definitely wrong in beating his daughters--no matter how severe their actions. I believe in the old Yiddish saying: "If you must beat a child, use a string." Besides, even if the most liberal psychologist approves of corporal punishment, one should never hit a child in anger. He would have caused far less damage if he would have allowed himself to cool off. To this, the proponents of corporal punishment would say, "All right then, since you know so much about handling kids, what would you have done?" First, I would turn off the laptop and take it away. Then, I would send them to their room. Then, I would take some deep breaths and say a prayer. Next, I would talk to them about self-respect and remind them of what happens to girls who are too liberal with their bodies. Finally, I would put parental controls on their laptop and ground them for a month. They would then have to post a video online about why their actions were wrong, before they could get off punishment, but they would still not be able to use Facebook or Youtube for another three months.

The simple fact is, the only person who came close to being right in this situation is the mother--for calling the police. Still, did she ever talk to the girls about not falling for the hype? Did she tell them that their bodies were more than a source of entertainment for others? Also, what was her reasoning behind calling the police: to protect them from their father or to protect them from Child Protective Services? At an rate, the mother at  least did well to protect her daughters and no has a chance to discuss their father's possible manifest message. As for the father, if he does get to keep his parental rights, at least he has learned that there are more positive, civilized ways to discipline a child.