Most of the victims don't have a clue what "hit" them
By Ralph Welsh, Ph.D.
Letter to Project NoSpank, June 30, 2001

This past week I have tested an inordinate number of social security disability applicants who were seriously damaged by the belt. Many of these people not only struggled with the consequences of unresolved anger (screwed up kids in jail, troubled marriages, bad relationships in the work place} but exhibit a litany of physical problems obviously stress related. I suspect these people have attenuated immune systems due to chronic high levels of cortisol. The belt, and the punitive parental attitudes that go with it, undoubtedly does more damage to more people in the country than any other thing I know of. If one could actually calculate the negative cost of the belt (school days lost, police costs, prison costs, murders, high blood pressure, depression due to anger turned inward, property damage due to vandalism, children turned into angry non-productive cynics, road rage, school bullies, school vandalism, school shootings, marital abuse, early and later use of substances often resulting in AIDS, teen-suicide, physical disease due to chronic high levels of cortisol, and an incredible amount of societal non-productivity denying society of so much potential talent -- not even to mention all the pain and suffering) the cost to society would be found to be enormous.

Most of the victims don't have a clue what "hit" them, and many if not most beat their own children as well, and then attributed their kids' criminal behavior to "the bad neighborhood" and "peer group influence." As you know, my research clearly shows that ghetto kids from loving, non-punitive homes often have delinquent friends, but simply trot home when the street action begins. The "bad" kid has to be primed for aggression in the home before he/she hits the street and acts out. We have known for years, kids like to hang with kids like themselves. My delinquent patients swap stories of parental abuse with each other, then tell me they richly deserved all of their beatings because they were "bad." Peer group influence cannot corrupt a kid who has a good value system, and caring, non-punitive parents

Ralph Welsh, Ph.D.,
Bridgeport, CT


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