Volume I, Issue 12
August 25 - September 2, 1997
For as long as I can remember, people have been at odds over the
issue of child discipline. Some insist that spanking is perfectly
reasonable, providing kids with direct consequences for their
beastly behavior. Yet there's a growing camp of parents and psychologists
who claim physical punishment constitutes violence and sets a
hypocritical example that leads to abusive behavior later in life.
These people usually recommend a "time out" system
by which a child who does wrong is sent to his room and denied
all love and stimulation. It's a calculated silent-treatment,
an openly aggressive form of passive-aggression. It seems to work,
though parents who administer it poorly tend to find their children
gleefully smashing vases so they can disappear to their rooms
and play Nintendo.
The feature article in this week's Arts & Leisure section
offers an alternative solution. Rather than smack your kid or
lock him up, why not pre-emptively instill him with a traumatic
fear of day-to-day life? Tell him watermelon seeds often sprout
inside bad boys' intestines, Coke and aspirin will give you brain
cancer, too much TV makes you blind, and Catholic nuns like to
abduct unsuspecting children. No need for tales about hell's damnation
-- the surreal impending horrors of the natural world ought to
get the job done.
The author is only half-joking: apparently his parents used just
such a technique, and apparently it worked. I'm convinced, anyway.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to run to the doctor, I think
I've got ringworm from petting a cat.