By STACEY PATTON
As I watched the video of the 9-year-old child who punched, kicked, bit and pinched babies at a Mississippi daycare late last week, I, like many others, was shaken to the core. I was horrified, speechless, and sick to my stomach. I didn’t quite know how to process what I was seeing.
The boy’s behavior tells me that this is something he learned. Something was done to him or he witnesses it. The fact that he takes medicine should not be discounted. Clearly he’s taking his aggression, frustration, and boredom out on weaker people. This is learned behavior. If children are hit for every inappropriate behavior at a young age, with nobody explaining what they’ve done wrong, then the only thing they are being taught is to act aggressively towards those younger and weaker than they are.
As infuriated as I was watching that child attack those toddlers, it never occurred to me that someone should beat him. Violence against a child is never the right response. And hitting somebody else’s child is illegal.
It’s interesting that so many people say, “I would be in jail today if that were my child.” What does it mean that, as a people, we are so quick to default to prescriptive violence? Don’t we realize that just puts more Black people into the prison pipeline and the foster care system? The whole community needs to learn some conflict resolution skills, ASAP!
As horrific as that video of the 9-year-old boy attacking younger children might be, we need to be coming together—as families, as neighbors, and as communities—to learn the reasons behind such horrible behavior. Look into his family background, his home environment, the medicine he’s alleged to be taking—maybe violent outbursts could be a side effect?
Just as it was startling to hear sweet, beautiful Gladys Knight talk about permanently disfiguring a troubled teen girl, and justifying it with cultural references (“I’m from the South”), I’m disappointed to see so many otherwise sane and rational adults revert so automatically to violent forms of punishment in the name of “teaching some respect,” “administering some good home training,” and “showing a child right from wrong.”
I submit that introducing violence makes effective discipline more difficult, because the beating becomes the central point rather than the child’s behavior choices being problematic. It disturbs me deeply that Black parents especially are so very, very quick to talk about straightening children out through spankings and beatings.
The conversations that erupt in response to shocking videos and celebrity fodder are perfect examples of where the healing and growth needs to take place…
Read the rest of Stacey Patton’s piece at Spare The Kids.
Dr. Stacey Patton is an adoptee, child abuse survivor and former foster child turned children’s advocate, journalist, historian, college professor, and motivational speaker. Patton is the author of That Mean Old Yesterday – A Memoir. She has written for The New York Times,Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Newsday and The Crisis Magazine. She blogs at Spare The Kids.
1. Videotaped Beatings and Child Abuse Handbook Show Why Hitting Kids Is Dead Wrong
2. A Reformed Spanker Reveals Why She Wishes She Would Have Spared the Rod.
3. My Son And the Knife: When Mental Illness Turns a Boy Into a Man
4. Spanking, Time-Outs and the Soul Train Line: Getting To the Discipline That Works For Us