I remember when children had utter respect for their parents. It was also a time when spanking was acceptable. Some parents even used the strap. Did “wait ‘til your father gets home” scar(e) us into submission or make us better children?
Jewish parents might have used Torah to threaten their children for millennia. Torah says that parents may have a rebellious child stoned to death. Yes, it says that in Deuteronomy 21:21. It wasn’t until the last century, that Dr. Spock’s baby book taught that children are complex little humans and parents should follow protocols in raising them. Until then violence was an acceptable part of child-rearing.
Barbaric you say? Today, the paddling of school children is legal in 19 states. A school superintendent in Missouri said the parents thanked the school for paddling their child. Of children who were subjected to corporal punishment in this country, 37% were African American, and 21% had disabilities, reported the New York Times in August 2022. Many dark undercurrents of society accompany the acceptance of violence,
The Cassville School District in Missouri now solicits the parents’ prior consent to paddling the child as a policy. “When it becomes necessary to use corporal punishment, it shall be administered so that there can be no chance of bodily injury or harm,” the policy says. “Striking a student on the head or face is not permitted.”
Even debating a policy on corporal punishment in schools reflects the dark currents in our society. If insurrection at the U.S. Capitol can be a tourist visit, then paddling a child is just an educational experience. The acceptance of violence as discourse or as an educational tool is endemic.
The murder rate in major cities continues to rise. Some say it relates to the Covid pandemic. I think it connects to the deterioration of morality as political shifts harden into confrontation.
The murder rate in major cities continues to rise. Some say it relates to the Covid pandemic. I think it connects to the deterioration of morality as political shifts hardened into confrontation. U.S. Senators predict “violence in the streets” regarding Presidential politics. If politics is fair game for violence then what segments of society are immune?
I understand Torah to be written for a less evolved society than our own. The threat of violence might have been necessary to overcome people’s worst nature thousands of years ago. But as modern people, in the age of science and technology, our society should be moving toward peacefulness and nonviolence. Hitting children or storming a Government building, are both utterly unacceptable. That is a truth that should be self-evident.
Rabbi Evan J. Krame