Dear Mr. Zornes, Mr. Lowe, Ms. Parrott, Mr. Williams, Mr. Blackburn, Ms. Brasher, Mr. Anchia, Mr. May and Mr. Price:
I understand your school board will be voting on an initiative allowing parents to have their children exposed to corporal punishment, including K-G kids with paddles, and the vote is likely to be in favor of such an initiative.
As a clinical psychologist, a long time researcher into the correlates of corporal punishment, and an evaluator for the Connecticut Superior Court, Juvenile Division, your allowing a loophole continuing corporal punishment in your school system is extremely ill advised, not only because of humane reasons, but because of the known consequences of using corporal punishment on children--and animals, too. Are any of you willing to sign a petition that would allow people to beat their dogs if they misbehave? Try doing that with a pit-bull--not a really good idea.
History is replete with individuals raised by strap wielding parents, including James Earl Ray, Saddam Hussein, Adolph Hitler, Arthur Bremmer, Joseph Stalin, and O.J. Simpson just to name a few. The belt certainly didn't improve their behavior.
After more than 25 years of research into the causes and treatment of juvenile delinquency, I have been stunned with the sad reality that the recidivist male delinquent who wasn't raised on a belt, board or fist is non-existent. Yes, non- existent, and I have seen more than 3,000 delinquents over my lifetime.
The sad reality is that African Americans are over-represented in the prison population, and our research indicates that those parents who will want their children to be paddled will be disproportionately African Americans. Several of our studies have shown than African Americans that refuse to use the belt on their children are no more likely to raise delinquents than the other races.
Corporal punishment MUST work through the inculcation of fear. The children who are least likely to respond to the belt, are those who have been beaten so much they are no longer afraid to be hit. The trouble comes when the fear has adapted out, and there is nothing but raw anger left in it's place. The reason ADHD children are over-represented in the courts is due to the fact they are troublesome, and invite a lot of punishments from belt wielding parents (if the parents are so inclined). I have never seen an ADHD child referred to the court that wasn't raised on the belt or the equivalent.
I just evaluated a young black man at one of the Connecticut State Correctional facilities last week. He has a very long rap sheet, and is drug addicted. He told me, "Look, Doc, my mother was a strict church going lady who use to beat me a lot with the belt, 'cause I was so bad. One time, as a teenager, I got to the point I thought I was a man and could run things, but she chased me into the shower and beat me real good with the water on. I use to say 'I hate you, I hate you' and I hoped God would take her away, but now I know she beat me for my own good---she's gone now and I miss her so much."
This is a story I hear day after painful day. The beaters think they are teaching a lesson; the beaten believe the beaters were right, but their physiology gets so screwed up, they have to live with the rage the belt built into them, the rest of their life, until they are middle aged, and start to burn-out, often after living a totally unproductive life. Research does not lie.
If you believe that the people who were involved in 9/11 were not beaten, guess again. And these kids who go in and shoot up the schools; check out their corporal punishment histories. Corporal punishment along with indoctrination makes for very "good" martyrs.
Stop the hitting of kids in the Dallas schools. It is an extremely stone age practice; drilling into a person's brain to let out the bad ethers was less barbaric.
Ralph S. Welsh, PhD, ABPP
Diplomate in Clinical Psychology
Danbury, CT 06810
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