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In this article in the Washington Post, triggered by the Pope’s recent apology, Sinead O’Connor eloquently writes about her personal experiences relating to child abuse and the Catholic Church, her views on recent events relating to the Catholic Church, as well her belief in God.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/25/AR2010032502363.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Senator Jake Knotts of South Carolina has recently proposed a bill giving teachers, principals, schools and school districts absolute civil and criminal protection from liability for any injury or harm resulting from their beating school children. No this did not happen in the Middle Ages. This is January 2010! Here is the language of this amazing bill:

  Proposed Bill – S. 1042 

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

SECTION 1. Article 1, Chapter 25, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 59-25-60. (A) A teacher who disciplines a student on school district property by means of corporal punishment while acting within the scope of his employment is immune from all civil and criminal liability that may arise from the incident. The same immunity is extended to the principal, school, school administrators, school district, and school district administrators for which the teacher is employed.

(B) For purposes of this section:

(1) ‘Corporal punishment’ means physical punishment inflicted by an adult in authority within the guidelines established by the school district on a student enrolled in a public school of a school district of this State.

(2) ‘Principal’ means the administrative head of a public school of this State.

(3) ‘Teacher’ includes both a teacher as defined in Section 59-1-130 and a teacher aide as defined in Section 59-1-140.

(4) ‘School district’ means a legal entity as defined in Section 59-1-160.”

SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.    

There must some sort of support for this in South Carolina, but how can anyone believe that children should be beaten and that neither they, their parents,  nor their guardians should have any recourse to protect them. It seems that many people do.

Here are some interesting facts on this issue:

http://www.nospank.net/tjohnson.htm

A groundbreaking study out of the University of New Hampshire has found lower IQ’s in children who are spanked. The study also found a link between the amount of spanking and IQ levels. The more a child is spanked, the lower his or her IQ.  University of New Hampshire professor Murray Straus, who led the study, presents its results today, Friday, Sept. 25, 2009, at the 14th International Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma, in San Diego, Calif.

See the full text of the Science Daily article here: Children Who Are Spanked Have Lower IQ’s, New Research Finds, September 25, 2009, Science Daily.

Here is a story of child abuse out of Salem, Oregon.

Two parents have been arrested and accused of multiple counts of child abuse against their children, ages 15, 14, 13, 11, 10, and 9, including 6 counts of second-degree Assault, 6 counts of first-degree Criminal Mistreatment, 6 counts of Unlawful use of a Weapon and 6 counts of Coercion.

The children were taken into protective custody, as was the parents’ six-day-old infant, after the three older children called 911 to report abuse.  Sheriff’s deputies found significant evidence of abuse on the children.

Salem, Oregon, Parents Accused of Child Abuse, 7-22-09

What is most striking to me about this online newpaper article are the comments posted by readers of the article. Read them at this link: Two Adults Arrested in Salem on Multiple Counts of Child Abuse, Salem-News.com, July 22, 2009.

Apparently, nearly everyone who read the story was certain that the children were lying, that they were evil, and that they cruelly reported their parents just to avoid the spankings they deserve. Instead of sympathizing with the children or even hoping the parents could get some proper counseling, these multiple readers sympathized with the parents. Many of them cited bible verses indicating that children need to be disciplined with violence.

This is a very common classic method of childrearing. Children are to blame, children are to be hurt because they are to blame, and children need to keep quiet about it to protect the parents’ reputation.

Here are bible verses quoted by a reader commenting on an article on this situation in another online paper (Salem Parents are Accused of Child Abuse, OregonLive.com, July 22, 2009):

Proverbs 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.

Proverbs 19:18 Chasten your son while there is hope,
And do not set your heart on his destruction.

Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of correction will drive it far from him.

Proverbs 23:13 Do not withhold correction from a child,
For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.

Proverbs 23:14 You shall beat him with a rod,
And deliver his soul from hell.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and rebuke give wisdom,
But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother

Despite all this, I am not singling out Christianity as the only religion that traditionally supports child abuse or mistreatment. In fact, I don’t know of a single culture that has been immune from child mistreatment through history.

As you may remember from the prior post, in 1979, Sweden became the first country to ban all corporal punishment of children including in the home.

In an elucidating article, Adrienne Ahlgren Haeuser, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, has described the impact of the Swedish law a decade after its passage.

Professor Haeuser visited Sweden in 1981 and 1988, conducting extensive interviews with multiple government authorities, human services professionals, teachers and daycare personnel, child welfare organization leaders, parents, and some children.

The facts she discovered are amazing and surprising – the law has actually changed parenting practices and improved life in Sweden. Read the article at this link:  Swedish Parents Don’t Spank, By Adrienne A. Haeuser.

Here are some of her observations (made as of a decade after the law’s passage):

1. Before World War 2, Sweden was a society influenced by German authoritarianism and Lutheran dogma, under which childrearing included regular harsh beatings to “drive out the devil and make room for God’s Will.”

2. Sweden moved into the 1970’s with widespread child abuse.

3. The law was implemented in these ways: (a) every family received a mailing explaining the physical and psychological harm that can be caused by hitting children; (b) it was implemented through public health facilities, including close case work by nurses at the facilities; and (c) the law was given wide coverage in the media.

4.” The school system, in response to passage of the law, intensified the curriculum in child development and parenting. . . , and parents did not object to having their children learn about the law in school. As one parent said, ‘This teaches children not to be violent.'”

5. Since passage of the law, “few minor infractions have been reported by spiteful neighbors or children, putting to rest the speculation that such a law would create chaos by turning minor parental infractions into government cases.”

6. There have been many more reports of substantiated cases of child abuse.

7. In 1988, “[B]oth parents and professionals agreed that Swedish parents, aside from those with very serious psychological or social problems, were not using physical punishment of any sort, even in the privacy of their homes.”

8. “Swedish parents now discipline their children; and in doing so, they rely on a variety of alternatives to physical punishment. The method most commonly used is verbal conflict resolution. . . .”

9. ” To socialize preverbal infants and toddlers, Swedish parents make every effort to avoid conflict. They thoroughly childproof their homes and give their children a great deal of attention. Society supports include paid parental leave, which permits one parent to remain at home throughout a baby’s first 15 months of life.”

10. Violent crimes against people in Sweden decreased.