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A Hankerin' for a Spankerin'

by Stephen Lautens

October 22, 1999

The results of a survey about spanking children were released a short while ago. The researchers came to the conclusion that children who are physically disciplined are much more likely to grow up with substance abuse or emotional problems

Right off the bat, there will be people who'll say I have no right to comment because I have so far not experienced the joys or anguish of raising a child.

I also fully expect to hear from parents who will say: "I'm able to manage my golden-haired angel of a four-year-old by calmly discussing why it is not a good moral choice to put kitty's nose in the light socket."

I am reminded of the four-year-old daughter of a friend who wandered through a cocktail party in her best party dress punching all the men in the groin. I watched the little darling work her way through the crowd of doubled-over men, who were forced to pretend through watering eyes that she was cute and it didn't hurt that much.

I saw her sizing me up for the next below the belt sucker punch. As she approached, I leaned over and quietly explained to her in vivid detail the swift consequences that would immediately follow hitting me in the tender parts.

The result was she didn't hit me or anyone else. I don't know if she has needed years of therapy to overcome the trauma of a full and frank discussion of the issues with me, but I figure she learned a valuable lesson that day. It's one I still live by ­ don't hit anyone bigger than you in the groin.

I've had it with parents who stand there and try to reason with a toddler who's kicking and screaming in the butter section of the dairy case. And I mean in the butter section. I'm not saying spanking is the answer, but it sure gives the question a lot of focus.

Then there is the charming bunch who play baseball across the street, who use my front window to record inside the park home runs.

The worst are the children of the boomers - flower children themselves with kids named Raven, or Scout, or Rumour. They've never gotten over that "I'm OK, You're OK" baloney. It should be: "I'm OK, You're An Over-Indulgent Parent, and Your Kid Is A Hyperactive Hannibal Lecter".

So I may not have any children, but I find I have to restrain myself from spanking the children of others.

Maybe I have it backwards. Maybe it's the parents who really need the spanking for not setting any limits for their kids.

But this new study of 5000 people in Ontario said children who were physically disciplined are 50% more likely to face major depression and 150% more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs.

The problem is the study doesn't make any distinction between a spanking and slapping your child. Anyone knows there's a world of difference between a swat on the behind and a slap across the face.

In my early years, my siblings and I received the occasional well-deserved swat to the backside.

I remember the only thing worse than a smack to the backside was "The Lecture". It was the "I'm So Disappointed In You" speech. It was usually delivered by Dad, because he was the writer in the family and could go on at great length about the nature and depth of his disappointment without having to resort to a prepared text.

Variations on The Lecture included: "I Thought We Raised You Better Than That" and "What Did I Just Tell You?"

Pretty soon, we'd be begging for a spanking.

I'm not about to say that the Young Offender Act should be amended to include spanking, but talk of making it illegal it is just giving in to fashionable psychobabble.

To live in society, children have to learn early on about rules, limits and authority. And it's not always possible to reason with a five year old full of sugar.

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