Viral YouTube videos can be all the rage. YouTube has the power to entertain and has proved to be a huge factor in the exponential growth within the communications field. YouTube allows individuals to have a voice and interact with one another in ways unimaginable just a few years ago. Sometimes the viral videos are not entertaining. Sometimes there are videos like this one, that has gotten millions of views, to create a national dialog:
WARNING: the video contains graphic material
The video raises the subject of how parents choose to discipline their children. Does beating a child really deter them from a certain behavior? How far is too far?
I believe that parents have the right to choose the way they run their family. But have you ever encountered a parent that just shocks you and makes you wonder how and why they are a parent? Sometimes I feel that there should be a test people can pass before having children! There are always instances of unfit mothers and fathers who somehow retain custody of their children while those going through the adoption process are vetted and required to pay thousands of dollars for custody of a child. Obviously our society has already come to the conclusion of what a decent family is so then why is our foster-care system so incredibly broken?
Parental discipline is an even stickier situation to discuss because everyone has their own beliefs on what proper discipline is. My parents spanked me a couple of times but I can almost say with certainty that I deserved it. Being a spoiled only child, I was bound to cross the lines. But my parents never, ever used a belt on me. As children of a certain generation in America, my parents were disciplined with belts and wooden spoons, and thought it was wrong to carry on such a tradition in our family. But it was normal when they were growing up. Obviously there were the households then, as there is today, where the father or mother abused their children rather than disciplining them, but there is a fine line between abuse and discipline. Corporal punishment used to be standard in schools but now a teacher could get fired–or sent to the Rubber Room–for raising their hand to a student.
Today, though, physical discipline is much more taboo in mainstream society than it used to be. When I was a kid around 3-5 years old, I had a babysitter named Josephine. Josephine was from the Caribbean. My mother thought she was absolutely charming but everyday when my mom would leave for work, I would cry and cry. It wasn’t the separation anxiety that got the flood works a-flowin’, but rather it was Josephine’s forms of discipline that I hated being left with. For example, when we crossed the street, she would pinch the skin on my hand if I walked too fast or not fast enough. I remember times she would hit me and put me in the corner if I acted up. Things didn’t work out with Josephine. I clearly remember thinking that I didn’t deserve to be treated that way. No one wants to be spanked but sometimes young children need to be conditioned to know that certain behavior is unacceptable. I’m always surprised when I see children completely misbehaving in the street or in restaurants (us serves loathe getting children at a table because more times than not, kids wreak havoc at tables) and don’t even get reprimanded for their behavior while I’ll see parents on the train hit their children repeatedly for no reason at all besides them wanting to sit down.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned is that methods of discipline vary greatly from culture to culture. When I’ve mentioned Josephine to some people, I’m always told that that’s just how it’s done in the Caribbean–if you’re bad, you get hit; if you’re crying, you get hit; and you better not talk back because you could wind up with soap in your mouth. But do methods of hitting deter children from behaving differently? In my opinion, repeated physical discipline would only result is resentment and the cycle of violence only to continue to future generations. Perhaps it’s my white privilege that is so often pointed out to me speaking when I truly believe physical discipline is for those who are unable to communicate frustration in other ways. We all want to lash out at times, and I can only imagine that feeling is heightened when a child is hysterically crying and embarrassing you, but there are other methods of disciplining children. I feel like beating a child is a method of the past. Discipline like in the video above is appalling. Parents need to start realizing that is today’s society such behavior is unacceptable and that violence will never breed the good. As cliché as it is to say this, but really, violence is never the answer. Parents should grow up and learn new and innovative ways of teaching their children to be obedient and respectable. Parents owe it to their children to figure it out.