The issue here is not really whether you agree with spanking or not. The issue is that this is a blatant attempt at government intrusion over personal liberty into a place where it has no business intruding. The state of Massachusetts is attempting to tell parents how they can discipline their children. That puts them in the same category as China, who tells parents how many children they can have, and of what gender they must be. Or Nazi Germany, where all kinds of intrusions into family units occurred.
Of course, those in the behavior science industry who are opposed to spanking trot out their pet terms in describing it. Most frequently, they use the term “beating” or “perpetrating violence” to describe, falsely and deceptively, what is in most cases simply a firmer application of normal discipline. Sure, there are parents who do beat their children, but that’s already covered by laws that don’t really seem to stop the practice. Having the state dictate the form of discipline parents can administer to their children will lead to further intrusions into personal liberty in areas related to families. Is the day coming when children will live in dorms and board at their schools during the week, so that the state can supervise their upbringing and make sure that it is done according to the latest unproven theories in the behavioral science industry?
The article points out that Sweden was the first country to ban spanking, and has since been followed by others. Interesting, though that they did not point out that Sweden also has a soaring teenage suicide rate, drug abuse rate, and crime rate that correlates almost directly with the length of time that spanking has been banned. It did not point out that legally banning spanking led to undermining of parental authority across the board, and that factors identified by some behavioral scientists who have studied these effects in Sweden are directly related to issues involving parental authority.
Spanking was a last resort in our family when I was growing up. I knew, that if I got paddled, there was no doubt that I had done something disobedient. My mother was generally the administrator of the paddle, and she used one of those light wooden ones that came with a ball and rubber band attached, and that usually broke the day it came home. There may be some who disagree, but I don’t think those experiences psychologically disabled me, nor was I ever physically hurt. The pain came more from disappointing my parents than from the paddle. I suppose, if a ban on spanking had been in place in Arizona, as a ten year old, I could have sued my parents, or turned them in in exchange for a set of state-approved foster parents in a strange home, or perhaps a life in a group home, and been a whole lot better off.
I wonder if anyone in Massachusetts has thought about what this will do to their already overburdened social services system? They already have one of the worst in the country, in terms of overcrowded facilities and cases of abuse of the children the state is supposed to be watching out for. In recent years, the state legislature there has cut social services funding in order to make a tight state budget work. How are they going to accomodate thousands of new clients?
The bottom line is that God gives parents the authority to raise their children, under his guidance alone. Parents do not need the state to tell them how to raise their children, they need the church to disciple them, and teach them the principles of God’s word, as well as how to write them on the hearts of their children. In almost 30 years of youth ministry, I’ve had ample opportunity to observe the difference between children raised in homes where the parents followed Godly principles in raising their kids under God’s authority, and those who came from abusive families and were thus forced into either foster care or a group psychiatric treatment facility. While I have yet to meet parents who were perfect, I have met some families who were committed to raising their children under God’s authority, and their kids came out not perfect, but blessed.
The state needs to focus on its original, constitutional purpose, and keep its nose in its own business. This is a wake-up call, and the people of Massachusetts need to make sure this law never sees the light of day.