Mary E Braddock, MD
Children's Hospitals and Clinics
Community Health 70-4045
345 N Smith Ave
St Paul , MN 55102
Dear Dr. Braddock,
I received the publication “A Review of the Research on corporal Punishment” in the mail today and read it with great interest.
I have been concerned in the past about the over-zealous anti-spanking view that in the extreme would lean towards jailing spankers or terminating their parental rights, a view held by many of those who considered it only natural to lump clear abuse with spanking as discipline.
It was good that the booklet made the distinction between pain without damage, the goal of the spanking parent using it a punishment, and the kind of activities that may cause serious harm. It was also good that the point was clearly made that correlation does not equal cause and effect.
But after the introduction, the body of the booklet went on with the implicit assumption that spanking causes all the problems stated.
Since spanking is in the armamentarium of nearly all parents, based on the fact that nearly all kids have been spanked at one time or other and the fact that most parents believe that it is a reasonable technique under at least some circumstances, another possibility needs to be considered and studied. Is it not also possible that the strong-willed, rebellious, violence-prone children were the very ones who did not respond to milder forms of punishment and because of that their parents escalated to spanking? If that is the case, without spanking, they may have been even worse.
I find that a lot of interpretation of societal phenomena hinges on a person’s view of basic human nature. Are all children basically good and capable of turning into socialized, productive, cooperative and reasonable adults with minimal guidance? Or is there a bent towards the dark side – more evident in some than others -- that expresses itself in self-willed behavior regardless of the consequences?
Ross S. Olson MD
5512 14th Ave. So.
Minneapolis MN 55417