Tuesday, February 24, 2009

On the Other Hand...

So I'm teaching an essay I frequently teach in the first half of freshman comp, which looks at studies that link physical punishment of children with depression and low income levels later in life, an essay that usually, in this area, generates outrage and anger and, especially since I'm still touchy over Tonks' blog post and Zelda's story, I'm expecting more of the same.

Only not so.

Very little outrage from my students, first, though they did point out the problem with the essay (my attempts to get them to read critically are succeeding!) which is that it didn't provide sufficient evidence backing its main points.

But when I asked them why most Americans would be reluctant to believe this thesis, though they could tell me, they did not agree with the position. I asked for lists of reasons why we, as Americans, though it was a good idea to smack kids, and got silence, and then, from one of them, thoughtfully, "There aren't really any good reasons."

And a nineteen year old boy stayed after class to tell me how he worked at Wal-Mart, and he sees parents walloping their kids. "They always act worse after they get hit," he told me. "Always."

So, well: even in Arkansas, times are changing.

2 comments:

tonks said...

You know what gets me about kids getting manhandled in Wal-Mart? I generally see it most at the times the children should either be napping (i.e. around 1:00ish) or should be in bed and asleep. It makes my blood boil when I see little kids acting as overtired little kids are apt to do and see their parents fly off the handle. Why the hell would you think it's a good idea to take a child to Wal-Mart at 10:30 at night for goddamn shampoo? SERIOUSLY??? What do they expect for them to do? They curse at them (I actually heard a dad say, loudly, "Put that fuckin' toy down!" to a toddler) smack them, threaten, yell. Assholes and bullies-that's exactly what they are. And on more than one occasion I've said something to the parent or played the sympathy card ("It's so hard when they melt down like that" and then I talk sweetly to the child who usually calms down and responds instantly as does mom). Once, though, I scolded a woman who was being particularly hateful and nasty to a kiddo that couldn't have been more than 18 months old and she informed me I was a bitch. I laughed and told her she ought to find a mirror and didn't deserve to be a mother. It was nearly midnight and I was pissed.

Oh, confession: I have taken my daughter to Wal Mart at 10:30 p.m. but it was after she was on the receiving end of a molasses enema at the Children's urgent care clinic. She was had to poop on the potty for the first time and in the middle of it all she looked at me, exhausted, and said, "Mommy, now can I have a Barbie?" Overwhelming guilt won out over good sense on that one. And no, she didn't get screamed at, smacked or mistreated while we were there. Got our Barbie Mariposa and got out.

zelda1 said...

I have to say that one day, at walmart, I called the cops on a woman who was hitting her baby. The baby was less than two and she had smacked the kid not once but about five times on the head. I called 911 and stood behind her car until the cops came. Yes I did. I even told her if she hit that child one more time, I was going to show her what being hit on the head felt like. That's how pissed I was. Then, I also called 911 on a man who had his baby in walmart, he was drunk, the baby, a infant, was in the car seat being swung back and forth and twice he hit the car seat on someone's cart and the baby had no blanket on and it was cold. I called 911 and followed him until someone came. Both instances, the cops took the kids.