Introduction to Project NoSpank
By Jordan Riak, Executive Director, PTAVE
In case the title of this Web site has left room for doubt, let me restate our thesis this way: If you believe that the deliberate infliction of pain on a child is sometimes justifiable... If you believe that punishment corrects bad behavior and promotes good behavior, then you will not be pleased with what you read here. Consider this fair warning.
Our intention through Project NoSpank is to equip readers with an effective weapon of defense against the pervasive, primitive myth that by making children feel worse we cause them to behave better.
The focus here is narrow. This is not a how-to manual for parents. Excellent resources are abundantly available for that purpose, as any parent who honestly searches for them can attest. The problem is, committed, habituated child-hitters/child-hurters don't seek parenting advice, don't believe they need it and reject it when it's offered. Many of them scoff at such advice even when, for good reason, it has been mandated for them by the courts.
We take the position that children should no longer be excluded from the legal protections against assault and battery that apply to adults. In fact, the defense of children should be more vigorous because they are more vulnerable, and because the consequences of their early mistreatment are virtually irreversible; because damaged children grow into damaged adults who are likely to avenge themselves in one way or another. If they will not harm others, then they surely will harm themselves. The earlier and the worse the mistreatment, the worse the outcome.
Needless to say, in our society, the view that children merit parity with adults in this regard is a radical one and profoundly unsettling to many. One can easily understand why those who feel exposed, embarrassed and threatened by this view relentlessly obstruct reform. And we anticipate the loud public clamor that will arise in defense of 'traditional values' when enlightened legislatures finally move toward giving children the same protection against assault and battery that is taken for granted by every other class of citizen.
But we are relentless too. We have heard the clamor of obstructionists before. We have listened to them predict the end of family life when husbands could no longer "lovingly chastise their errant wives," the collapse of industry when foremen could no longer physically goad malingering workers, the disintegration of the military into a mutinous mob the moment the flogging post was removed. Honest observers of history recognize that, without exception, every advance in human rights has been, and will be, accompanied by this same noisy chorus.
Today one cannot hit a dog in public without provoking the ire of bystanders, or even risking arrest. But when someone hits a child, in most places it passes unnoticed.Our purpose in presenting this collection of material is to expose what is really happening to children, and show what are the consequences to us all. We do this without the usual pandering to adult squeamishness on the subject. The standard sweeteners have been omitted here.
Perhaps Project NoSpank will give a few beleaguered parents the confidence and the courage to reject the advice: "What your child needs is a good spanking." Perhaps it will encourage more educators to reclaim their profession from the bullies, incompetents and hangers-on, and convince more people in positions of public influence and authority that it is no longer acceptable for them to duck and dodge every time this issue is introduced. Perhaps, as more and more young people visit here and become familiar with the materials we have collected, fewer and fewer of them will be hoodwinked by their abusers' illogical explanations and flimsy alibis. We are hopeful that this Web site will help point the way to a better understanding of the root causes of crime, domestic violence, family dysfunction, addiction and mental illness. If it helps a few readers see past the haze of magical thinking and denial that obscures our culture's obsession with punishment and its unrelenting persecution of the young, it will have achieved its purpose.