Child rearing, etc.

Mark D. Fulwiler (
Sat, 03 Jan 1998 17:14:56 -0700

Hara Ra wrote:

>What we do know is that most violent people were treated violently as
>children. I agree that occasional punishment as you describe is >unlikely
>to be harmful, and my point is that there are often better >alternatives.

Your premise that "most violent people were treated violently as
children" is probably true. However:
1. Research has shown that most children who were treated violently as
children do NOT become violent as adults.
2. A higher percentage of those mistreated DO become more violent as
adults than those who were not abused, but this higher percentage is
STILL a minority.
3. So the so-called "cycle of violence" really does not happen in most
cases. (I can provide evidence of this study, if you want, but I'll have
to do a little digging.)
Although a higher percentage of abused children are predisposed to
become more violent as adults, I am a firm believer in free will (except
in very young children), and group statistics are not relevant to
individuals. It's like saying most white males in the U.S. are
Protestants, even though I am not a Protestant, or men commit most
violent crimes, but that fact has no relevance to me personally. I
choose not to engage in murder and mayhem. This does not mean abuse is
OK, so the "abuse excuse" does not impress me when used by adult

You may be correct that there are better alternatives to giving a kid a
few whacks in most cases. However, I still think it is appropriate in
cases of really bad behavior when all else has failed.

>>(Actually, even most kids who really are abused do not turn
>> violent-there is ALWAYS a choice involved.)

>Go back and read Alice Miller. I am not convinced that decisions made >in
>childhood represent true choices.

I think that once children reach seven or so, they are capable of making
some choices and should generally be held accountable for what they do.
How do you define "childhood" (the legal definition is generally anyone
under 18) and how do you define "true choice?"
I am not familiar with Alice Miller.

>> I'm very happy you never
>> have hit your kids. Good for you. However, do you really think your
>> child rearing methods will work with any and all kids?

>I only have to deal with a single case here, which works.

Fine. I don't argue with success.

>> At any rate, the
>> idea that giving a kid a few whacks on the bottom once in a while
>> (especially after the kid has been really bad, in this case he
>> practically killed the family pet!) "perpetuates a cycle of violence"
>> just one of those cliches
>> that I really don't find any empirical support for.

>Your posting certainly had the rhetoric which comes from those who
>espouse abuse as justified.... So I responded to that.

Well, I just don't see an occasional whack on the butt as abuse.

>> How do you explain
>> the low crime rates in the U.S. from 1932-60 when many, if not most,
>> parents were giving their kids an occasional spanking?

>I think violence statistics have many more causes than occasional
>spanking. I can't remember the logical fallacy here, does someone on >the
>list know the name of it??

Well, in a way the issue is complex, but in another way it isn't. People
are violent because they see some personal advantage in it for them. As
Von Mises points out, all human action is an attempt to end a state of
unease, discomfort or dissatisfaction.

I have taken Statistics and I know that correlation does not prove
causation, but it can suggest some relationship.

As an example, obviously it would be silly to say the Britain has a
lower murder rate than we do because they have a Queen and we don't.
There are other variables that account for the difference. However, it
is not silly to say that there is a cause and effect relationship
between democracy and peace. (Democratic states do not go to war against
each other anymore, and no other variable other than democracy can
account for this.)

>> However, I really don't understand people who
>> think that parents who have a different philosophy of discipline than
>> they do are evil monsters who are turning their kids into sociopaths.

>I think you are reading more into my post that what I was saying.

Ok, I accept that.

>> By the way, I don't have kids. "Good", I'm sure you are thinking ,
>> Ra.

>Well if you ever do so, be sure to examine the nonviolent child rearing
>options available so you don't have to whack them...

I'd be happy to look into it. :-)

Mark Fulwiler