A Pediatrician's Comments About Corporal Punishment

by Jeffrey R Keller, Md <Pedprac@yahoo.com>

Comments from Dr. Jeffrey R Keller, Winslow Pediatric Care to the Winslow PTA

The Winslow County School Board recently held a panel discussion for its PTA regarding the growing problem that the school, the town and the parents are having with juvenile vandalism, crime and delinquency. As part of a continuing effort to address this serious issue, the Board recently brought in one of the towns two pediatricians, Dr. Jeffrey Keller, to address questions many parents had regarding the use of Corporal Punishment as a tool to exact greater discipline on their children. What follows is a transcript which was sent to all parents whose children attend school in the Winslow County School district:

As I understand it, many questions were raised at previous meetings regarding the use of Corporal Punishment to fight this growing epidemic. Some of you said that you had raised your sons in a home where you used Corporal Punishment and that gradually, as he has gotten older, he has grown immune to the spankings. Others have expressed concern that spankings can get too severe and then others have expressed the concern that todays society does not tolerate spanking of children and that many physicians might report evidence of spankings to the police as an indication of possible abuse.

Let me address this last issue first. Reasonable spanking can be, in no way, a sign of parental abuse. Notice I do say reasonable. In my practice, I have had to counsel parents about evidence of harsh spanking. I think there has been such a lag between when spanking was an accepted practice to today where it is enjoyung a renewal of interest hat many parents are not familiar with the value and purpose of Corporal Punishment.

It isnt about severe pain as much as it is about humiliation and a recognition on the part of your son as to who is in control. Boys are taught to take pain. They are not taught to take humiliation and embarassment. Notice I put the emphasis on son and not daughter. I do this because the problem here in Winslow seems to be with our boys and not with our girls. This is not surprising. Studies have shown that boys tend to become more independent and rebellious and this is just one of the manifestations of that. In addition to the petty and not so petty vandalism are problems with aggression towards fellow students, teachers and even parents, use of drugs and alcohol, cheating and _s_e_x_ual deviancy that can manifest itself in many forms of perversions.

Tonight, I would like to make this session as an introduction to Spanking. I think it is important that we are all on the same page on this topic so that we do not find ourselves doing too much or too little.

CONTROL: What we are talking about tonight is the obvious problem that we are losing control of our sons. Society over the last forty years has taken an increasingly dim view of physical punishment. Some of you may have been spanked or even slapped as children but many of you I would hazard to guess were simply sent to your room or grounded as it became known as. Psychologists moved us in this direction because they mis-associated the growing problem of teen aggression as a response to physical pain. We passed prohibitions of its use in schools and while we all supported that move, we have also seen how our schools have gradually lost a disciplined environment for our children to learn. We have learned that the old proverb: "Spare the rod; Spoil the child" was indeed accurate. We lost control. And now, we want to take control back. We want our sons to understand that there are consequences to their actions and that any deviation.....any deviation....from what we expect of them will be punished accordingly. Control means that from this point forward, our sons will know what we expect of them and that when they fail to meet those expectations physical punishment will result.

What does this mean?

How often do you yell, raise your voice or simply admonish your son? If you think about it, probably dozens of times a day. How often does your son not do as you have told him and how often is he disrespectful? What has been your response? It is no wonder that things are getting out of hand because Ladies and Gentlemen, we have lost all control. It is time for our boys to know that we are taking back control. Those of you with sons in the 5-9 year old range will find this a relatively easy task. Those of you with sons approaching or well into puberty will need to struggle for that control. But, suffice to say that starting from this point forward, any parent in this audience who has a son up to and including the age of 16 should introduce him to Corporal Punishment. I draw the line at age 16 not because I do not approve of Corporal Punishment beyond that age, but because to try to introduce it to a 17 year old or older would be too traumatic an experience for most dads.

Dads? Yes. Control of the son must rest with the father. That is not to say that Moms cannot gain control or exert threat. Certainly with younger boys, Moms can spank with the best of them. But, studies have found that one source of punishment establishes a much tighter control over the son. As for Moms the old threat: "Wait till your father comes home...." is still a powerful weapon in bringing a boy into line.

Boys today suffer from "entitlement and that is the first thing that we are going to address. What do I mean by this? Our sons today believe they are entitled to privacy, to independence. They think they are entitled to have secrets. Wrong. This is the first issue that we want to address.

When was the last time you saw your son naked? In most cases, you are thinking to yourself probably back when he was 5 or 6 years of age. As he has grown older, you have afforded your son an increasing amount of priavcy. Surrendering this right of privacy have given our sons an increased belief that they are entitled to secrets from their parents. As psychologists have long known, this belief in a right to privacy from parents has led to a belief that our sons have a degree of independence.

Spanking addresses this issue spectacularly. Perhaps this is a good point to define Corporal Punishment.

Our grandparents had it right. When we punish our sons, we punish them, not their jeans or their underpants. When we are talking about spanking, there is only one method......bare assed. In fact, I will argue shortly that not only are we talking about bare assed spanking but we should be talking about totally naked. You want to establish control over your son? This is exactly how to do it. You start by destroying the myth of privacy and independence.

All spankings should be done with your son totally naked. Spanking is not just about the physical pain. As many of you know, our sons can learn to take considerable pain. What they have a hard time dealing with is the embarrassment and humiliation that comes with being forced to strip naked.

RITUAL: Spanking should be a ritual. Your son must be trained to understand that when you determine he is to receive a spanking, that there is no being talked out of it and that what follows for him will be an excruciatingly embarrassing moment that is going to last much much longer than just a moment.

Designate a room. Spankings should take place in one or maybe two places depending on the mind games you want to play with your son. His bedroom is certainly an appropriate place for punishment as it helps to eliminate that idea that his bedroom is his sanctuary. And, while we are on the subject of destroying the sanctuary, take the lock off of your sons bedroom door. Remember, we want to destroy this right to privacy. A study or perhaps a room in the basement will also serve this purpose. If you cannot designate a specific room, you may be able to have a specific chair . Those of you that have work sheds or even a garage may also consider these as suitable places of dread.

When I say RITUAl, it is important that there be a time leading up to the spanking that will force your son to focus on his impending punishment and to allow him to actively participate in the preparations.

As many of you know, I have two boys, aged 6 and 13. My sons experience Corporal Punishment as needed which is with great frequency. However, because our ritual involves nearly 30 minutes of active preparation, I do not spank them everytime they misbehave. I have designated the 8 Oclock hour each evening as spanking time. It gives them an hour to digest their dinner and if they earn a spanking that day then upon conclusion of their punishment, they are sent straight to bed. They are not spanked every night. However, their behavior IS reviewed each night at 8pm.

My son s are spanked in their room except when they are spanked together. They are spanked together when they misbehave together and when they are spanked together, we address that in a special room set up in the attic.

During the course of a day, if they misbehave, either me or my wife Jeanne will identify the infraction and simply say: Michael (or Matthew), we will address that this evening. Minor infractions earn 10 slaps and major ones 20. However, EACH minor infraction earns 10 and even if they are guilty of only one minor infraction, it is straight to bed following.

After dinner, my son being punished is sent to prepare. Preparations involve taking a shower and putting on only a robe. Some of you might prefer the ritual of making your son strip in front of you or stripping him yourself. Each has its own merits. If he is being spanked in his room then he has to move the spanking chair to the center. We have a "Progress Book" which he will then have to fill out in advance. He takes once page and fills out the date and the types of infractions he is guilty of and does so in the format that I have prescribed on the sample page at front. If he does not remember what or how many infractions he is guilty of then he can come and ask me. He lists the infraction and then the number of spanks to be received and then adds them up. He signs the book and upon completion of his punishment I sign the book. His final assignment is to add the total number of spanks earned that day and put that number on the Weekly summary page. The number of total spanks ultimately is assigned by me. He may earn 20 but I may choose to give him 40. He may earn 80 and I normally stop at 50 and carry over the remaining to the next day as an incentive to do better.

When I arrive at his door, I walk in and shut it. I tell him to remove his robe. He then stands before me in what the Army calls a Parade Rest (hands at lower back) feet apart position. I review his Progress Book and the number of spanks he has tallied and compare them with my own tally. A wrong tally will double the spanks earned so my sons tend to be very accurate. We then discuss his misbehavior --why he misbehaved and did he think he could get away with it or did he not care or consider the consequences..... His answers help to determine his final punishment for the evening and could also earn him a red mark on the weekly summary page. All of this is done while he is naked and exposed. It is interesting to watch their penises move around as they confess to their misdeeds. They think it is their body ratting out on them.

Once we conclude the counseling, he then lays himself over my knees facing to my left, places hands on the floor, with feet spread wide. I raise my right knee to better elevate his buttocks and we commence the punishment. I should mention that he is instructed to position the spank chair in the room so that he can see himself in mirror attached to his closet door. Spanks are administered at 3 second intervals alternating cheeks. Upon completion of his spanking, he stands facing the mirrored door for a time that is equal a minute per spank. 30 spanks

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