Whoopings Ain't Working, Y'all

Essence's Janelle Harris makes the case that corporal punishment that leaves welts and open sores is going to exacerbate the problems that exist and create some new ones, too.

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Essence's Janelle Harris makes the case that corporal punishment that leaves welts and open sores is going to exacerbate the problems that exist and create some new ones, too.

... Black folks believe in spankings. It's a cultural norm, accented with funny anecdotes about picking your own switches and being mollywhopped with mama's backhand from hell. For too many of us, doling physical discipline is our only form of punishment. But if it's so effective as a standalone solution, then how come there are so many bad little kids exemplifying zero home training and acting the damn fool? Under a firestorm of regularly administered beatings, a lot of children are able to build up a tolerance, so much so that they become desensitized.

Case in point: last summer, when my car was in the shop and I was forced onto the grueling labyrinth of DC's public transportation, I watched a mother on the bus snatch a boy who couldn't have been more than four, yank his tiny arm into the air and pummel him like a throw rug. She knocked him so hard at one point that his little knees buckled underneath him and he dangled from the suspended wrist for a few seconds before he managed to scramble to his feet. I was horrified.

But you know what? Not even three minutes later he was right back to doing the same thing that got him pulverized in the first place. So that meant another beating, another set of howls and hollers, another round of sympathy from me. He and his frustrated, out-of-ideas mama repeated the process two more times in the 30 minutes it took to get home. That was a mighty long bus ride on that there day ...

Read Janelle Harris' entire piece at Essence.com.

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