Monday, November 16, 2009

Hands on approach to sex education and making slaps illegal

Today the Guardian published an article about a teaching programme targeting 14-17 year olds in Roman Catholic Spain of all places. The article explains that the programme aims at teaching "how best to set about "sexual self-exploration and the discovery of self-pleasure" – or to put it less delicately: masturbation." (click here to read the article)

Simultaneously, the French are considering a law which would make spanking children illegal - a law which apparently already exists in 19 out of 27 EU countries.

So? Well, both "activities" (sex-ed and slapping) used to be considered "family property" and are now being handled by institutional entities. I'm generally not too thrilled about that although it seems that one of the reasons this is happening is due to parental negligence.

I'm all for sex ed. as long as it's carried out in an appropriate framework, at a reasonable age and by professionals.

And, don't get me wrong, I am
absolutely not for physical punishment although I have to admit that Emma has had the occasional slap on the hand or squeeze of the shoulder - although my preference goes to, removing her plate if she is "playing" with food or standing her in the corner of the room for a couple of minutes, but how do you do that when you are walking down the street?!

Studies show that children brought up with physical punishment are more aggressive and violent themselves (I do believe in leading by example) and so one can hope that such a law would perhaps also have an impact on violence against women (read some facts). On the other hand, I have to admit that when I first heard about actually making a slap illegal, my first reaction was "that's a bit far-fetched isn't it?
However, the more I think about it, the more I think that it might not be such a bad idea.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Hi Sandra, Interesting blog entry. I often think about these issues.

I know that corporal punishment has been illegal in Germany for a while. In my opinion it's very good that these laws exist. Too many people make use of their power as an adult towards their children. I often think of it this way: I would feel humiliated and shamed if anyone would slap me when I did something scary or wrong. It would be unimaginable to slap my husband if he does something I disapprove of. But with a child, that has even less of an ability to defend itself, it's acceptable to use physical ways of expressing our discontent or fear in order to teach them important lessons about life. I think that mistreatment will continue to exist, even if this law can maybe reduce physical forms of punishment. If it's not physical than there are still enough ways to show one's power on an emotional or verbal level. I truly think that it is all about the intent. If I just react without intent or consideration (physically, verbally or merely emotionally) it can be hurtful to a child.

Oh I could write about these things far more. I am also highly aware that every child is different and every parent is different. I know of many parents here in our American community that are very supportive of spanking, slapping, or other forms of corporal punishment. They argue that it hasn't hurt them and that it is for their particular child the best way to teach them good behavior. I am sure that it is an efficient way of parenting. But is it really the best? One father shared with me how his 6 year old son has pushed another boy on the baseball field and how he internally was proud of his son's ability to stand up for himself. But his reaction as a parent was to give him a good spanking. Well, I just was astonished that he couldn't see the hypocrisy in his way of teaching his son about physical expression of aggression. He taught his son not to push others by spanking him. This is weird lesson in my view.

I personally have already started to read more on discipline and i think of it as a way of guiding a little person so that they can feel accepted, safe, and comfortable in our society. Discipline is in my view also giving a child the opportunity to sleep, eat, and rest at regular times of the day. Schedules are a form of discipline. I hope not to come to the point where I spank Leyla, but I am also aware that it might happen. That's why I try to learn about as many other forms of discipline so that I have a large toolbox that allows me to have a choice in moments of distress.

I sometimes think that rather than simply creating a law that in reality cannot hinder parents from physically punishing their children (who knows what happens behind closed doors and if the child will make a statement against it's parents) it would be better to create mandatory parenting licenses. Parenting is in my view not an intuitive process. I think we intuitively repeat the mistakes that our parents made and feel that's acceptable because we don't know better.

Well this was a long response :)

Greetings form Eva

Sandra said...

Eva, I agree with many things you have written and once again regret that we didn't have the opportunity to get to know each other more in Izmir. I can only imagine the interesting conversations... ;-)