I recently noticed in the newspaper that the age old debate concerning the pros and cons of corporal punishment has resurfaced as it does from time to time.
Since I have some first hand experience with it I thought I’d throw my two cents worth into the fray and see if it elicits any thought provoking comments.
I really don’t know what the scientific data has to say about corporal punishment but I can enlighten you with some anecdotal evidence gleaned from my childhood.
The incident that put me in harms way on this particular occasion was a mud pie war in our backyard pond. My younger brother Alan and I were swimming as we did most every summer day. Swimming eventually evolved into scooping mud off the bottom of the lake and throwing it at each other. It was jolly sporting fun.
The crucial moment in this particular saga came when my superior strategy resulted in a speedy conclusion to the skirmish. I had gone down and scraped a large quantity of mud off the bottom, complete with roots and algae attached to it. When I resurfaced, Alan’s bubbles were coming up close by and I awaited his re-appearance with much anticipation. When he popped to the surface beside me I delayed my attack until he opened his eyes, and then firmly planted the mud pie in his face. He immediately began to whine and cry like a baby, and then he scampered out of the pond and into the house to tell Mama. It was at this point that I began to doubt the wisdom of my actions.
I went up to check and see if Alan’s injuries were serious, and Mama said the dreaded words, “Just wait until your father gets here.”
Now, Mom could wield a pretty mean peach switch, but she knew she couldn’t catch me. Additionally, her use of the word “father” had monumental significance because under normal circumstances it was just “your daddy”. In this case, however I think she was of the opinion that my actions warranted the attentions of the big bopper.
It was at this point that panic overwhelmed me and I did a couple of stupid things.
First, I ran to the barn where I could be easily cornered, and second, I failed to put on some thicker clothing. In fact, all I had on was a wet bathing suit. As I cowered in the nether regions of the barn I reflected on these things but it was too late to go back. I heard Daddy’s truck pull in and I knew justice would not be long delayed. There could be no question of a fair and speedy trial in this instance.
A short while later Daddy came out toward the barn calling for me and of course I didn’t answer which compounded my other errors. Finally he came stomping close by my hiding place and his tone of voice left me no alternative but too meekly let him know where I was. As he closed in on me I’m sure some apologetic words escaped from my mouth and I’m just as sure that he never heard them and if he did they went unheeded. As I said, this would be a fair and speedy trial.
I don’t remember what he said to me or even if he said anything at all. What I do remember is that he beat me like a tied up goat in an attempt to help me understand that I should not take advantage of my little brother’s meager skills in mud pie combat. I assumed that was the gist of the day’s tutorial.
As I reflected on the big picture later on I think the punishment was also meant to point out that in all cases and all times I needed to consider the consequences before acting. It was a good lesson to learn and I have tried to do just that every day since then.
So in summation I guess you could safely say that spanking has its defenders and its protagonists, its pros and cons. I don’t really know if anyone on either side has all the answers. All I know for certain is that corporal punishment worked for me.
Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at email@example.com.