3 Responses to Individuals make a difference

  1. Beth Balaban says:

    I admire YOU, Kathie, for your courageous efforts toward a more peaceful world. I’m really happy about the creation of this blog, I think it’s a great resource for academics and non-academics alike to learn and to open up discussions about important topics.

  2. Jac says:

    This blog post brings to mind a parallel between this choice of peaceful conversation or peaceful protest to obtain a desired outcome over fear-inducing behaviors and interrogations to reach the coveted result and the choice that caretakers must make when parenting: peacefully explaining to a misbehaved child his or her wrongs or using corporal punishment. In Hines and Malley-Morrison’s Family Violence in the United States, one specific statement by Berliner stands out about corporal punishment: “Corporal punishment of children is essentially a legalized form of assault. Acts of ‘minor violence’ that would be crimes if committed on an adult are legal when they occur as ‘discipline.’” (p.6). Therefore, as with the definition of abuse, the definition of corporal punishment can be interpreted in very dangerous ways and taken to mean a severe beating that is legal by some parents. Although several studies have shown that physical harm done to children can very likely produce later negative life outcomes, corporal punishment is still legal.
    One example of these is a 2001 study by Straus. According to Family Violence in the United States, “Straus has repeatedly pointed out [that] even acts that seem like relatively minor forms of maltreatment (e.g. spanking, name-calling) are risk factors for negative outcomes for individuals and society” (p.7). Our professor explained Murray A. Straus’s studies of corporal punishment to us. At first, Straus believed that parents had to spank their children in order for them to grow up to be decent, law-abiding adults, as he had always heard. He thought that the reason some children misbehaved was because they weren’t getting enough discipline at home. When he received a grant to study this with the goal of showing that corporal punishment leads to good adjustment later, he was interested in finding “spoiled” children who had not been punished. In addition to looking at parental disciplinary tactics, Straus looked at their school performance, and physical and psychological health. To Straus’s shock, the children who had turned out the best as adults were the children who had not been spanked in their childhood. Relating to social learning theory, Straus argued that one of the problems of corporal punishment is that the parents always give justifications for violence, such as that the child deserved or needed it or that the parent wouldn’t spank if they didn’t have to, and these rationales are just as dangerous as learning the acts. More information on Straus’s findings can be found in his book Beating the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families and its effects on children (2001). If only these findings were more publicized, perhaps parents would start to steer away from physical punishment, as the Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance wish: “In our opinion, motivating parents to change from corporal punishment to alternative methods of discipline would seem to be the most productive public mental health program known” (p. 6).
    Although it may not matter in may case since I am largely posting on this for academic purposes, I admire my father very much for taking a courageous stance for peaceful interactions. Perhaps it is not extremely similar to the grand acts of Dr. King or the man in Tiananman Square, but my father has always been the first to object to unfair usage of words (e.g. “You’re retarded,” “That’s gay”) or racial slurs (e.g. “He’s lazy like a Mexican,” “Don’t be a stingy Jew”), even if his current audience was not particularly pleased about it. Maybe this doesn’t combat physical violence or war, but it could help someone who had felt verbally offended or abused but didn’t say anything to stop the behavior.

    • Dahlia Wasfi says:

      I like the anecdote about your father. That is thinking globally and acting locally and encouraging those around him to be humane and respectful. May his example have a great ripple effect (as it already has on you, and through your post, me).

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