Brookline Massachusetts cowered to the side of draconian tradition last night as some chuckled and scoffed as Dr. Ron Goldman read his proposal for Brookline to become the first American community to ban parental corporal punishment. I overheard one older man, who appeared to be a minister, mutter to his friend, "Can you believe this? I can't believe they are bringing this craziness up--- at Town Meeting!!" I handed out some of my cartoons to people walking through the door. They depicted the hypocrisy of "child protection laws" and typical domestic violence campaigns that fiercly decry assault of spouses but are silent and apathetic on the subject of corporal punishment. Although there were many supporters of the article, there were a majority of speakers who were in favor of killing the bill, inlcuding a school teacher and a domestic violence worker! Article 16 was killed by a vote of 105 - 78, in favor of tabling it "indefinatly". The disturbing aspect of this outcome, is that the article in no way instituted any law or any punishment for parental spankers. The article was a simple proposal of principle, essentially stating that the people of Brookline recognize corporal punishment as a negative thing, and encourage parents to find alternatives to corporal punishment, and that the community would offer resources. Ignorantly, speakers kept insisting that "there are agencies out there that already deal with this issue". To the contrary, as one who works very closely with the Massachusetts Department of Social Services, many in the agency support corporal punishment. Some social workers have even told my client's parents that they are free to spank their children. I guess in 2004, America is still not ready to step out of the stone-age on violence against children.
Laurie A. Couture, M.Ed.
Mental Health Counselor
Laurie A. Couture is a member of the Board of Directors of Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE). Her Web site is ChildAdvocate.org.
HAVE YOU BEEN
TO THE NEWSROOM?