Randy Cox's Letter to the Editor of the Boston Herald Randy Cox's Letter to the Editor of the Boston Herald
re: "Time to Spare the Ron," Mike Barnicle, Nov. 16
November 21, 2004

Dear Editor,

In "Brookline..." (Nov. 16), Mike Barnicle fails to acknowledge that one may correctly refer to spanking as hitting. In his attempt to refute one of child advocate Ron Goldman's citations from his review of 4+ decades of corporal punishment research, Barnicle says "totally bogus". Only this to the mountain of well-cited research that reveals spanking as neither safe nor efficacious nor more effective than several positive, effective alternatives?

The scientific data is harder to swallow when hit means, rather narrowly, "whacked around". Denied cuter words that paint corporal punishment as innocent and harmless, a word like "hit" thrusts to reality. It's something negative sounding, something nice parents would never do. But "hit" accurately describes what the vast majority of American parents said that they did, repeatedly, to their toddlers (National Family Violence Surveys, 1975, 1985 and another national study of prevalence by Murray Straus in 1999).

While not all hitting is spanking, slapping, whipping, paddling, beating or whacking, each of these aggressive physical mistreatments is indeed hitting and describes what can be done in the name of discipline to no one in America but minor children. It's not cute but it accurately describes hurting a person on purpose by striking some part of his or her body.

Finally, on page 21 of "Beating the Devil Out of Them...", Murray A. Straus (U of NH and the Family Research Labs) writes, "A Los Angeles study [Korsch et al] revealed that about one-quarter of infants one to six months of age were spanked" and by the end of the first year, the incidence increased to nearly half.

Randy Cox

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