I am the Chairperson of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, [Kentucky] Commission on Prison Ministry. I am concerned about a number of incarceration and criminal justice issues. You would be shocked, for example, at the percentage of inmates who are mentally ill and how they are treated.
More to the point of your website, many in the public believe that we need "more spanking" to keep people out of prison. As Deion's interview on your website shows, however, they could not be more wrong. At least 80 percent of my clients in prison were physically disciplined as children, and even abused. Their problems were not lack of physical punishment but rather lack of love, affirmation, positive guidance, and attention from a caring adult. They did not have the opportunity to model themselves after someone who empathized with and respected others.
In Kentucky, archaic views of child discipline remain a problem. Before I came to Northpoint Training Center, an adult male medium security facility, most of my career was in children's protective services. I recall an incident about 15-20 years ago, when I investigated allegations of child abuse by an assistant school principal. He proudly told me about the paddlings that he had done, including the one in which physical evidence was present.
We still have disenfranchised segments of US society — children and prisoners are two of them. Unfortunately, the mistreatment of children, rather than being a help, is instead a significant contributor to the development of criminality. Our society with its Puritan heritage is very judgmental and concrete in it’s thinking about child discipline. Rather than addressing the cause of children’s behavior, it seeks to punish. Among such factors as poverty, undiagnosed learning disabilities and mental illnesses, child maltreatment in homes and schools is a contributing factor to the US having the highest rate of prison incarceration on earth.
Our country needs a revolution in attitudes about parenting. Parenting training should begin with children in middle school. The government should provide parents with a subsidy to attend parent training programs and employers should offer paid time off to parents who attend training.
Any kind of corporal punishment deprives a child of his/her feeling of body integrity and does leave them vulnerable to other types of abuse also. You are on target! Keep up the good work.
Billie Jones Stockton