Saturday, September 26, 2009

Effect and Cause

Yep, it was in the news a while back. Fortieth anniversary of Woodstock. This means Woodstock is now officially too old to attend itself. The generation gap didn't end when Nixon resigned, it's still out there. Nowadays it goes on in a nuanced way. Like punishing children for example.

Couples in their early 30's have a "no spanking" approach. Instead of spanking, it's "time out." The method is similar to professional Hockey, and we all know what good results the NHL gets. So if you throw a lamp at the cat, or vice versa, you must sit in the penalty box and consider the error of your ways.

Comes the weekend, the parents go out for dinner, and they drop the kids off at the grandparents' who proceed to wail the daylights out of the little monsters. You'd think this would confuse children, but they're really quite adaptive. They learn quickly that Mommy = time out and Granny = spank my bottom. It's an efficient system in use all over the country... that means an expert is on hand to muck it all up of course.

Mr. Straus has a study indicating that "Children who get spanked often have lower IQs." The methodology looks sound, but I think he has a predicate problem. Mrs. Beal from my tenth grade English class would make him diagram that sentence again. OK, I'll agree that diagramming sentences is one classroom function with zero applications real world in the. Hey! That'd be cool, if I could get Yoda and Mrs. Beal to diagram each other's sentences. Hilarious would that be young Jedi.

Umm, what was I talking about? Oh yeah, the Straus study. I think he's mistaking cause for effect. The sentence should read, "Children who have lower IQs get spanked often." And to be fair, a lot of spankings get delivered to kids at the higher end of the IQ graph. There are the devious smart children, always testing the enemy adult's patience, and there are the kids who really thought it was OK to give kitty a bath in the toilet. Either way, I'm pro-spanking for kids from walking age to about four.

At that age, they can't be reasoned with. I'd rather try reasoning with a liquored up chimpanzee. A swat on the bottom, when it's deserved, lets a kid knows somebody is the boss, and the boss is watching. That can be a comforting thing, even as lower lips are quivering and tears are flowing. Big enough to smack your butt is big enough to hold you safe when you're afraid. Children need to know there are authority figures present during their formative years. You don't want them schlepping along, blissfully unaware of authority and then bang! Age 15 they run smack dab into Mrs. Beal. You know what that's gonna look like? Spending blackboard lots of time at the, that's what!

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