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The TRUTH about Corporal Punishment
Plain Truth Magazine
September 1961
Volume: Vol XXVI, No.9
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The TRUTH about Corporal Punishment
Garner Ted Armstrong   
Church of God

Born: February 9, 1930
Died: September 15, 2003
Member Since: 1930
Ambassador College: 1956
Ordained: 1955
Office: Evangelist

How should you train your child? How does he learn? Here is the astounding truth about modern child psychology.

   TODAY there is a deep-seated underlying hostility and resentment coward authority! Why? In the last issue, we saw how a child learns, and when he should begin to be taught! It is now vi rally necessary to get at the very roots of the modern theories about child-rearing. We must see what is behind the "no-punishment" theory, and find what are its results.

NATURAL Rebellion Against Authority

   Just as there is resentment toward authority in the home, resentment toward authority on the part of young children, so there is great resentment toward any authority in religion! Notice what our professing Christian society is like today:
"There shall be false teachers among you... and many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. But chiefly them that.. DESPISE GOVERNMENT. Presumptuous are they, Self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities!" (II Pet. 2:1-2, 10).
   Here is the keynote of our times that dignities are stultified, their offices impugned. Children don't respect their parents. Parents don't respect each other. Vast segments of society don't respect the LAW but want to repeal, annul, emasculate and tear down every last vestige of authoritative law enforcement! Everywhere, law enforcement agencies complain bitterly of public lethargy and apathy, uncooperative spirits and attitudes, weak laws and disinterested legislature. They complain bitterly of the movement against capital punishment which gives the murderer in the United States only ONE CHANCE OUT OF 160 OF RECEIVING THE DEATH PENALTY! It is this basic, underlying CONCEPT of hostility toward AUTHORITY, of belief that corporal punishment is WRONG that seems to pervade every nook and cranny of our diseased and decaying civilization. Because this concept is one of the bases of the insipid, ridiculous theories of modern "child psychology" it must now be treated in no uncertain terms.

Why Psychologists Fear Corporal Punishment

   With the ushering in of "progressive education," closely following the pragmatism of William James, a new school of "Thinkers" arose who promptly jumped the tracks of sanity, and have since, remained derailed with their false theories. Since these prevailing false concepts are at the very root and core of much of today's confusion over child rearing, let us analyze a few of the more outstanding.
"Any kind of punishment either by means of words or force, or even mild reprimands on the subject, is extremely unwise," advises one foremost source, assuring gullible young parents they should never punish their children. "The chief danger of punishment is that it makes the child feel guilty that he is bad, naughty. The child is likely to have a stronger feeling of guilt about his activity than about the other things he does. His ideas are vague and confused and his imagination vivid. He may build up pictures of the terrible things that will happen to him because of his naughtiness, thus sowing the seed of more fears and more anxieties, and increasing his emotional difficulties" (p. 391, The Complete Book of Mothercraft, Parents Institute).
   Notice that great stress is laid upon the supposition that punishment will make the child feel GUILTY that he is "BAD" naughty! This "feeling," assure the child-psychologists, is extremely harmful, and will surely lead to many and terrible consequences! Thus they denounce God ALMIGHTY, who gives them every breath of air they breathe! The Creator spends infinitely more space in His sacred word going into great detail about the frightful PUNISHMENTS to be inflicted in a God-rejecting sin-filled world than He does in describing the rewards! And what is more important God backs up His word. He DOES PUNISH! But notice the insipid, ignorant depths to which this permissive society has sunk in its lawless doctrines of "do-as-you-please-ism."
"The ineffectiveness of corporal punishment has been repeatedly demonstrated. The punishing parent or teacher 'frequently forgets that he loves his child; he forgets it because something in the child's behavior has made him forget that the child loves him.' Of the problem cases described by 100 teachers, not one was improved by whipping. School social workers frequently report that a child's emotional difficulties are aggravated by beatings at home.... Many parents have said 'The more I whip him the worse he gets.'" (p. 345, An introduction to Child Study, Strang.)
   Here, incomplete and partial information from "school social workers" is used to apparently "demonstrate" that corporal punishment is ineffective. Nothing is said of the method of punishment, the frequency with which it was done, whether it was consistent, or whether correct and thoughtful USE of punishment was being made. Rather, that punishment for the sake of punishment is supposedly wrong.
"The word punishment should not appear in our dictionaries except as an obsolete word, and 1 believe this should be just as true in the field of criminology as in that of childrearing. The parent's object in rapping the child with a pencil is to get it to react in conformity with certain social usages to behave itself. Why then should the parents ever be angry? Why should they ever punish in the old Biblical sense? Such things as beating and expiation of offenses, so common now in our schools and homes, in the church, in our criminal law, in our judicial procedure [published in 1928 times have changed!], are relics of the Dark Ages.
   Think of it! This quotation, now seriously out-dated-has actually come true in part! Recently, Attorney General Kennedy was lamenting the situations now spreading across the United States of criminals being exonerated from guilt by (he courts after being caught red handed in committing a crime! It is a proven FACT today that criminals, even after confessing freely to their guile, have had such confessions "dismissed" as proper evidence by a conniving counsel for the defense interested, NOT in whether or not the man is really innocent or guilty, but merely in making a reputation for himself because such confession was made before "arraignment." The system of no punishment has taken hold! The child psychologists have partially succeeded in their march against constituted authority! The RESULT is the appalling, heart-wrenching, sickening, stench of a mountain of crime, a cesspool of sadism, a sewer of pornography and dope addiction, a gigantic, mounting rush toward complete anarchy! But now, notice the incomplete, utterly ridiculous, UNWORKABLE ideas promoted by impractical theorists:
"The parent's attitude should be positive, should be that of the instructor by surrounding the child constantly with objects that it has a right to work with. In this way 'forbidden' objects come gradually to lose their stimulating value; the children cease to play with fire [that is, if they are still alive and your home is still intact}, with matches [same comment], they stop turning gas jets on and off (that is, if they are still alive and your home has not been blown to bits, together with a dozen others in the block), picking up sharp knives and forks [that is, if they have not been so seriously cut or have fallen on one of the sharp instruments and are now dead], pulling over glass vases and bottles. But where the positive method of training does not make them let these objects alone, then gentle pencil rapping is a safe and sane procedure" (pp. 63-65, Psychological Care of Infant and Child, Watson).
   But wait! Will this work? Can you REALLY apply such teachings to your children? Can you ACTUALLY WAIT for your children to be "surrounded with objects that it has a right to work with" so it will become interested in THEM, instead of running into a busy street, pulling over heavy glass vases, turning on gas jets, playing with sharp knives? This would be so LAUGHABLE, SO RIDICULOUS that it would be PAINFUL if it weren't so SERIOUSLY IN ERROR! Of COURSE the child should be able to have constructive toys, and be surrounded with right objects. But this positive teaching CANNOT take the place of proper, loving, diligent PUNISHMENT to teach a child NOT to handle objects, or follow practices that will TAKE ITS LIFE! Many child psychologists seem to have adopted the idea that parent-child relationships are as difficult and involved as international diplomacy. So many and varied are the suggestions on the tactful employment of modern psychology in the parents' dealings with their children that one is thoroughly confused by the self-contradictions, the incomplete statements, and the unanswered questions in the dozens of volumes treating with the subject. Another example of such contradictory partial information is:
"Punishment affects parent-child relations and teacher-child relations. A spanking which the child considers unrelated to the situation is likely to make him hostile to the person who administers it. It is better, whenever possible, to let the punishment fit the crime to let the situation itself punish the child. Then the parent plays the friendly role. He gives warnings. If the child persists in doing the thing, he will get hurt. The parent can be sympathetic, but reminds the child that he said it would hurt. The problem is much more difficult when the forbidden is rewarding, like running out into the street an exciting excursion that many times may cause no harm, yet sometimes be fatal. But over a period of time the parent can build a relation based on rewarding experiences in which his advice was needed" (p. 221, An Introduction to Child Study, Strang).
   Taken at face value, this advice "seems" to be relatively sound. However, when looking more closely, so many are [he errors and false concepts that this particular quotation must now be treated, and as a whole, will be enlarged upon further, a little later. Re-read the first part of the last quotation. It is sound. It makes sense. Bur notice again that even though it is admitted the problem is much more "difficult" when a child runs into the street THIS eventuality is not dealt with at all! Why? Because, having already committed himself to NO PUNISHMENT theories, this author wouldn't know how to keep a child from running into the street without tying him in the yard, keeping him in a pen or else PUNISHMENT! Even after admitting this "excursion" may sometimes (there is NO PLURALITY INVOLVED IN THIS WORD) be FATAL, he offers NO suggestion for coping with the problem! Can you believe your eyes? I must admit, even though I knew child psychologists did have various "ideas" about dealing with children with methods other than corporal punishment I was SHOCKED at the emptiness of some of their theories when I was researching for these articles! Society cannot seem to reconcile itself to the fact that love and punishment could possibly come from the same source! It is somehow beyond the realm of conceivability to the average carnal mind that there could be any LOVE involved in PUNISHMENT! Punishment is such a "nasty" word, that some child psychologists (as already quoted) have even advocated its deletion from our dictionaries! Today's modern movements to rescind punishments, to abolish the death sentence for demented, brutal, sadistic murderers who themselves have inflicted torturous and horrifying death sentences on perhaps even DOZENS of helpless human beings, the desire of the average wife to have the word "obey" taken out of the marriage ceremony, and the vast, all-comprehensive movement of religionists to strip the pulpit of its power, rip laws and authority from the Bible, and throw discipline to the winds, may serve to illustrate the depths to which the roots of the anti-discipline weed have grown! Notice again, from a very respected group of psychologists and child-behaviorists, how, because of certain abuse! of right punishment ALL punishment is assumed to be utterly wrong:
"Sometimes one sees a letter in a magazine or newspaper in which an individual or a group of parents recommends the indiscriminate use of corporal punishment with a cruelty and sadistic saris faction that is frightening. "Most parents, however, turn to this extreme as a last resort, and because they think that nothing else will work" (p. 365. The Complete Book of "Mothercraft, Parents Institute).
   The next quotation from the same authors serves graphically to illustrate the aforementioned principle of the basic inability to understand that love and punishment CAN come from the same source:
"It (corporal punishment) usually is the end step in a long course of happenings that has carried both parents and children away from positive feelings of love and understanding. "Outside influences are often instrumental in bringing about this change. sometimes it is 3 relative or an 'in-law' who criticizes the children, comparing [hem unfavorably with other members of the family. Sometimes it is the other mothers on the block who, unable to understand or accept the normal aggressiveness of an active small child, suggest in no uncertain terms that he is badly brought up and a menace to the neighborhood. Frequently, the school finds that a child is not doing well and passes the responsibility back to [he parents, who have no other way of handling the problem than through 'discipline'" (p. 36), 366, The Complete Book of Mothercraft, Parents Institute).
   Notice that the child psychologists view the use of corporal punishment as a complete breakdown in "parent-child relationship," something that is done only in anger, as a result of outside coercion, or of complete frustration on the part of an upset and helpless parent,

Abuses of Punishment Cause Criticism

   The authors go on, in their abysmal miscalculation, to say:
"The child's failure to live up to what is expected of him, either by the school, or the family, or his parents, is a painful and bitter experience for the mother or father. They feel a deep sense of their own failure in their most important job. Angry and upset at themselves, as well as their children, they STRIKE OUT in the ONLY WAY THEY KNOW!" [Emphasis ours.)
   This type of punishment is an ABUSE. It should never be done! But the learned doctors, seeing only the abuses, seriously advocate NO punishment whatsoever, even in the RIGHT WAY! Notice too, how such parents are ridiculed as reverting to basic, barbaric instincts, descending to the level of their own children, "striking them" much as a person of the same age group! But to continue:
"And yet the intelligent parent cannot help seeing that this kind of treatment actually does no good.... Again and again we have to remind ourselves that children's behavior is not random and haphazard, as it appears on the surface. It is really purposeful: Children act in accordance with their deep inner drives and feelings. A child sucks his thumb because doing so gives him comfort and satisfaction. Punishing him will only increase his need for this kind of solace. More affection and understanding are the best cure (or thumb-sucking. This is not 'spoiling' him; it is contributing toward his sound development" (p. 366, The Complete Book of Mothercraft, Parents Institute).
   I personally witnessed two children, ages about 10 and 12, who had been reared under just such practices, in an airport restaurant recently. They both sat, with an empty expression, with their whole thumbs firmly inserted in their mouths. These children, by their very eyes, mannerisms, and appearance, seemed deeply and emotionally disturbed! They looked frightened, worried, apprehensive! Everyone in the restaurant was staring at them it appeared so unusual! And yet, why should they have been so shocked? Apparently, these parents were merely "contributing toward" their "sound development!" Frequently, sensational stories of thoughtless parental brutality have been emblazoned across the pages of America's newspapers. "Father Beats Children to Death", "Mother Whips Six Week-Old Baby", "Father Ties His Children in Woodshed Leaves Them All Night!" and similar outrages have shocked and horrified the public. But human beings are creatures of extremes.' Like the constantly moving pendulum, they seem co swing from one opposite extreme to the other. There have been certain terrible ABUSES of corporal punishment misapplication and thoughtless use by parents who are punishing their children IN ANGER. There have been sensational stories of torments upon tiny tots by a few who are not proper disciplinarians and who are completely unequipped and ill-fitted to be parents. As a result of these extremes, the child psychologists and a whole field of "do gooders" have been convinced that ANY use of corporal punishment must, by its very nature, be WRONG! Granted, there were, a few decades ago, many abuses in child discipline even in various schools, as well as in the homes. There are today, seeing these abuses and malpractices by untrained and unskilled parents, should not lead other parents to assume there is not a proper use for discipline. The child psychologists have, true to form, swung to the opposite extreme and begun to advocate NO DISCIPLINE! Very recently, as a result of the surging increase in a worldwide wave of juvenile crime and lawlessness, law enforcement agencies, government officials, and even some few child psychologists have begun to advocate more and more discipline, more respect for authority, and the introduction of corporal punishment into some school systems! Taken in its right perspective, with its correct application, this is certainly a very good thing! However, let us hope it is not merely the swing of the pendulum back to another "extreme"!

The Imagined "Effects" of Corporal Punishment

   Parents have been increasingly reluctant to punish their children because of the supposed "effects" which they have been told punishment engenders.
"Parents spank their children for various reasons : To control the child when other means have failed; to release their own feelings of annoyance; to meet the expectations of Grandfather or the neighbors, who do not have the child-development point of view. Spanking seems the quick way of 'getting results' but these usually take the shape of temporary conformance, not of growth in self-direction and self-control. Autocratic control usually produces one of two personalities: An oversubmissive child who does what he is told but shows no initiative, or the rebellious child who is constantly waging war against authority" ( pp. 221-222, An Introduction to Child Study, Strang).
   This is an untrue assumption. The RIGHT use of spanking does not produce an "oversubmissive child" who acts as an automaton, but guide! and controls initiative, inventiveness and self-reliance. This argument, true to form of all arguments by a carnal world, throws the Holy, Inspired Word of God out the window fearlessly going directly contrary to the eternal wisdom of God! Notice the next example. Seeing ONLY the MISUSE of punishment by distraught, INCAPABLE parents, the author remarks:
"Some mothers are always nagging and scolding their children, yank them when they cross the street or get into buses, and slap them whenever they do something the mother doesn't like. These mothers may be tired and cross, but they do not understand that they make their children cross and irritable too and make things harder for themselves. "If you let yourself go occasionally and slap or spank when you are excited or upset, it probably isn't too serious provided your child is left with the feeling that he has been punished only for something he has done, and that you love him anyway" (pp. 366-367, The Complete Book of Mothercraft, Parents Institute).
   Here again, punishment is viewed as "letting oneself GO occasionally" or, in other words, losing 011e'5 tempe1'! It is viewed as if the adult human being, in anger, were "getting back" at the child and inflicting physical torment upon the child merely because the child has "bothered" the parent! Again, seeing this misapplication of discipline, the child psychologists, imagining a number of terrible "effects" of spanking, have been responsible for deeply etching the feat of the "unknown" in the minds of many young parents assuring them their lovely little children may turn into perfectly horrible monsters, become demented, or develop harmful "complexes" as a result of spanking!
"But if you find that you are punishing and slapping repeatedly, you may be sure you are on the wrong; track. spanking may stop your child for the moment, but you don't know what else it may do [emphasis ours]. "It may make him angry and resentful or humiliated and ashamed. Or he may become hardened and pay no attention to it; or just so afraid that he can't trust himself to do anything. "None of these feelings helps him to learn what It was that he did wrong or why, or how to act the next time."
   OF COURSE these "feelings" don't help him learn the POSITIVE part! But notice how INCOMPLETE is this assumption' If amply warned first, and then punished in LOVE, accompanied by kind, patient POSITIVE TEACHING of the right as opposed to the wrong, this objection becomes worthless, as is later demonstrated.
"The best that can be said for spanking is that it sometimes clears the air. But it isn't worth the price, and it usually doesn't work!" [Emphasis ours] (p. 367. The Complete Book of Mother-craft, Parents Institute).
   Notice that parents are threatened with unforeseeable and dire consequences if spanking is utilized! One author said:
"Corporal punishment develops resentment and misunderstanding. It stresses what the child should not do rather than what he should do, produces fear, and makes him lose confidence in his parents. Intelligent parents rarely resort to corporal punishment.... An intelligent disciplinary method is the use of reasoning at the child's level of understanding. The more calm and free the discussion, the more clearly can the desirable conduct be formulated" (pp. 452-453, Growing Superior Children, Kugelmass).
   To some authors, the whole meaning of the term "punishment" seems to revolve around blind, unreasoning BEATINGS inflicted by calloused and indifferent parents in a fit of frenzied anger!
"The typical result of the whipping in childhood is either the servile, timorous individual, who usually is at one and the same time cringy and crafty, or the arrogant and objectionably self-assured person. Almost everyone who was beaten in his childhood has a tendency toward brutality."
   Notice the employment of the terms "whipping" and "beaten" as being the obvious reason for "brutality." This author continued:
"Yet the method of corporal punishment continues to be employed, although its uselessness, absurdity. and downright harmfulness should be apparent to everyone. This mystery finds its explanation in the fact that it is mostly the whipped children, who, as parents, advocate the theory chat whippings are indispensable. They believe they are following their good sense when they deal out blows, whereas actually they are following only a strange inner urge. They want to give their child a vivid and drastic demonstration of their own superiority, they feat that otherwise they will be unable to subdue his resistance; and they do not realize that the use of brute force plainly betrays an essential weakness that has no other resource at its disposal. Nor do they admit to themselves how much cowardice is implicit in such a procedure" (pp. 138-139, The Challenge of Parenthood, Dreikurs).
   Here is further proof of the swinging of the pendulum. Many child psychologists, observing parents lashing out in anger, as a result of their own frustrations and tensions, have witnessed thoughtless misuse of corporal punishment often with serious and long-lasting consequences. On the premise that punishment, by its very nature, must come from the source of ANGER, BITTERNESS, HATRED, RESENTMENT, FRUSTRATION, TENSION, they label corporal punishment as "anything but good" for the child, and a word which should be deleted from our dictionaries!
"If mutual respect and an ever-developing and deepening relationship is to be built up between parent and child, then certain types of disciplinary measures must necessarily be ruled out. Of these the obvious one is corporal punishment. That has no place in our program. To Do violence to another human being is humiliating to him that gives and to him that takes" (p. 116, Our Children, Fisher).
   But is it really "obvious" that corporal punishment should be ruled out? You have seen it asserted that spanking: "Isn't worth the price, and usually doesn't work," "develops resentment and misunderstanding," is "unsuited to... modern relationship between parent and child," that it is "absurd," "useless," and "harmful," and that the very word "should not appear in our dictionaries." We have now seen a fair representation of the theories regarding discipline through spanking from the child psychologists. Unfortunately, too many of their theories have been swallowed by gullible parents. In the next number, we will investigate the real OUTCOME of the application of these theories of "no punishment" and where it has led our society.

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Plain Truth MagazineSeptember 1961Vol XXVI, No.9
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