EDMUND C. LEVIN, M.D.
2424 Dwight Way, Suite 2
Berkeley, CA 94704
Board Certified in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
1 Feb 99
Nathan A, Miley, Council Member
1 Frank Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612
Attn: F. J. DeVires, Aide
Dear Mr. Miley:
As a physician specializing in General Psychiatry and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, I am interested in supporting the Resolution against spanking developed by Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education. As opposed to the recent reports in the S.F. Chronicle, my reading of the Resolution leads me to understand it as educational and advisory in nature. Its message appears to me to be one which is entirely consistent with my training and experience.
It is my belief that discipline is essential for the healthy development of children. Unfortunately, "discipline" is far too often understood only in terms of punishment. Its other meanings, which speak to "discipline" as a body of knowledge and to issues of teaching, and which relate it to the status of being a disciple, tend to be unknown or ignored. Yet, we know with certainty that punishment is, at best, the least effective means of positively influencing development. At worst, it traumatizes the target of the punishment and teaches that violence is an acceptable way of dealing with others.
Sadly, my work has often required me to address the negative sequelae of harsh physical and emotional punishment of children. As prevention is without question more desirable, I am hopeful that the City Council will pass at its next meeting the Resolution in question.
Edmund C. Levin, MD, FAPA, FAACAP