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Letter to the editor: Nothing justifies beating a child

Our Executive Director, Desiree Doherty shared this letter to the editor in the September 30th, 2014 Tulsa World.

Re Mike Jones (Spare the rod, please; Sept 22). Why do people think the phrase “spare the rod and spoil the child” is some kind of Biblical permission or directive to beat a child to teach them how to behave?

The original language and context refers to a shepherd’s staff, a type of long walking stick with one curved end called a “crook”. Look it up on Wikipedia. The shepherd uses the straight end of the stick to balance himself on rocky hillsides, to search in crevices and bushes for dangerous undergrowth that would trip up the sheep, and to defend his flock against predators. The shepherd also uses the stick to guide the sheep by tapping lightly on the sheep’s right or left side in order to nudge it back onto a safe path if it starts to go astray and wander into dangerous territory. The true meaning of this phrase is to be attentive to your child’s safety and diligent in guiding your child’s behavior with gentle firmness if they are wandering into places/behaviors that will be harmful to them.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies beating a child. To cause a child injury to the point of welts and bleeding is appalling. What Adrian Peterson did to his 4-year-old would be criminal assault if the victim was an adult. He says he is just using the kind of discipline that he grew up with, and we can see the results of that type of discipline…a violent man with a string of broken relationships and multiple encounters with law enforcement. Is that what he wants for his own son? All his child has learned is that it hurts to be his daddy’s son. He’ll be reminded of it every time he sees the scars on his back and legs.

If you ever feel so angry or frustrated with a child that you could hit them or shake them, STEP AWAY. Give yourself a few minutes to get your emotions under control. In that moment your clear thinking is hijacked; you don’t realize how easily and how seriously you could hurt your child in just a few seconds. If you recognize a pattern of uncontrollable anger, please get help right away. You can learn a different way to behave. For your child’s sake.

Note: This is an original version, the version in the Tulsa World was shortened for space.

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