Parents across Minnesota this morning are searching for switches. The state supreme court has held that parents who spanked their son with a paddle did not commit a crime. The case began when Shawn Fraser decided to paddle his son Gerard for running away from home — using a wooden paddle 36 times on the boy. Gerard was then 12 and weighed 195 pounds. Gerard called the cops and Shawn was arrested.
In a unanimous decision rejected the state’s “bright-line rule that the infliction of any pain constitutes either physical injury or physical abuse, because to do so would effectively prohibit all corporal punishment of children by their parents.”
Gerard says it worked and he is now a better kid. To get his two sons back, Shawn had to agree to stop spanking.
My father would spank us (I, of course, rarely required such punishment but my brothers are demons) but never used anything but his hand. I always thought that was a wise distinction. I have never understood the use of switches, belts and paddles. Moreover, I have four kids and I have never had to spank one of them. I have certainly yelled a lot but never had to use spanking. Experts increasingly oppose the use of such punishment as abusive. Nevertheless, I do believe that parents have a right to make this decision for themselves. Indeed, I have not signed on to the Non-proliferation of Spanking Treaty — reserving the right for handling major family felonies.
Nevertheless, it can become abuse so I certainly understand the investigation in this case where a child called police and a wooden paddle was used.
The question is what I will do with my pediatric pillory in the backyard.
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