Break the Tradition … Not the Children

The fact people are still equally divided on whether a child is acceptable or note, plus the slow-shifting idea that maybe getting smacked was not a good experience is an opportunity to clarify the impact of physical punishment.

To strike means to give a blow to, to hit, to cause to come into forceful contact, to attack. To spank means to strike something with an open hand, especially on the buttocks, as punishment. Violence is physical force so as to injure or damage, is intense powerful force, unjust or callous use of force or power, a violent deed or act. Coles Concise English Dictionary, 1979)

Yes, many people have been spanked because it is a tradition, But also, many people have also received strikes that went well beyond spanking, including slaps across the face, smacks with belts, straps, rulers, yardsticks, whatever was handy for beatings that even resulted in death. Remember, people often take out their frustration and anger on those they “love.”

The problem is not the child or a child’s behaviour. The problem is with with parents, caregivers, and society to refuse to move past a tradition because it is a tradition.

On one hand, I do not understand why people, who take on the tremendous responsibility of raising a child and transforming them into an adult, would not want to take the time to learn from the present knowledge instead of repeating the past. If one was an employed caregiver, we certainly expect them to receive the same knowledge through training and to act accordingly.

On the other hand, my years of research, built on the research of other experts, including Alice Miller, the forerunner who studied how Hitler and others were shaped into the adults they became, revealed our dominant, often unconscious belief people have to earn respect to be considerable valuable.

When it comes to our stuff, if we value it, we treat it with care. How much depends on our own “Respect Level,” which was shaped by our own experiences. How we treat others and children reveals the same.

Even horse training advanced beyond tradition. “Breaking” horses is now considered cruel and unnecessary since “gentling” a horse results, not only in a quicker response, but in a response based on bonding fostering willingness versus fear fostering rebellion.

The final piece of the puzzle is recognizing our differences. One psychological tool, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), reveals there are sixteen personality types, yet we need to consider all the other influencing factors, such as, culture, religion, social status, etc. affecting a family. Considering these and many other factors, we really do not know how physical punishment is going to affect a child.

The truth is striking a child is no longer the smart, compassionate, or respectful thing to do … raising awareness and choosing alternatives is. Let’s break the tradition no longer serving us. Let’s not take the chance and break … then have to repair the children, teens, and adults … physical punishment creates.

Kaitlin A. Trepanier

By permission, this originally published “Letter to the Editor” in the South Bruce Weekender, January 21, 2016, is being published today by the original author to share the contents with a global versus small community audience.

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Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

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June 30, 2020






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