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Theyll love you when it matters
Hines Roger
Roger Hines

I know. It’s considered abuse. Modern psychology and the American Academy of Pediatrics have won the spanking debate. Common sense has lost and so have children.

The Academy says spanking teaches violence. Good grief! It forestalls violence. Spanking is not striking or hitting. It is applying the board of education to the seat of learning. Our changing views on spanking show just how wimpy, powerless and lacking in self-confidence we have become as parents.

I cringe to hear the radio ad of the child psychologist who says she grew tired of hearing her child scream, “I hate you!” The lady goes on to say she can help the rest of us discipline our children. Really? Since when could the blind lead the blind? A child who screams “I hate you!” to his parent doesn’t need psychology. He needs shock and awe. The parent who lets it happen long enough to grow tired of it needs as much help as the child.

It’s taking children too long to grow up these days, and it isn’t their fault. Fault belongs to Mom and Dad and the broader culture. We’re giving every child a trophy, or at least a smiley face, and are assuring them they are special, no matter how they’re behaving or performing. Failure to discipline — including good spankings — has produced selfish teens and immature young adults.

Joan of Arc was 18 when she led French troops against the English army. Alexander the Great succeeded his father to the throne at the age of 20. Teddy Roosevelt wrote a booklet on insects at age 9. Yet none of these youths were prodigies. They were simply young people with curiosity and drive. I doubt they were coddled.

I was a substitute school bus driver when I was a high school senior. Two of my friends, also seniors, were full-time school bus drivers. All three of us were 17. Incidentally, all three of us were spanked. Can you imagine a 17-year-old being entrusted with a school bus today?

My school bus driver never missed a day so I never had to sub for her. But I did drive athletes all over the central part of the state. A 17- or 18-year-old, male or female, was considered grown four or five decades ago. There were more responsibilities for youth and seldom were youth told how special they were. Responsibilities made them feel special.

Parents and schools alike give more instruction in safety than in venturing out fearlessly into a world that is not safe and never has been. One of the most egregious mistakes schools have made is called ninth-grade “academies” — separate building, separate eating area, separate everything — in order to “transition” ninth-graders more smoothly and safely into the high school scene.

Ninth-graders are 14. Do they need protection, by way of isolation, from their older peers? Constructing buildings in order to be tender or in response to bullying seems a bit expensive. Our talk about bullying will probably cease within six months, anyhow. Meanwhile, instead of modeling fear, isolation, and retreat, we should read bullies the riot act and teach youth how to stand up for themselves. By the way, do you suppose those bullies were ever spanked?

Parents, of course, should be held to account more than schools. Modern educational psychology has taught parents to be “democratic.” To the extent that parents have swallowed it, many children and youth have failed to see tough love modeled and are consequently unprepared for adulthood and the routine conflicts of life.

One proof of parental over-protectiveness and tenderness is the new problem colleges face. For several years now, parents have been contacting college professors to complain about their 18- or 19-year-old “child’s” grades. I would have died before asking my parents to speak to a college professor for me. My parents would have scoffed. Maybe colleges need a separate campus to help freshmen with their “transition” to college. Maybe high school and college seniors need some type of gentle transition into the cruel world of work.

Today’s 17-year-olds can’t be blamed for being born in 1997, which to some of us seems like last week. What amazes me is that in spite of “democratic” parents and soft psychology, we still have so many outstanding youths who manage to overcome their parents’ prosperity and permissiveness.

I know many youths like this, and that’s why I cannot join the pessimism bandwagon upon which so many are climbing. But neither can I keep from occasionally yelling, “Spank those young’uns! It’s better that they learn restraint from you than from a judge or a jury.”

Roger Hines is a retired Cobb County English teacher, a former state Legislator and a former candidate for state school superintendent.