It seems not a day goes by lately when you don’t hear about some horrific stories of child abuse. This week alone brought a story of a 4-year-old left outside in freezing temperatures as punishment for misbehaving in his daycare class, and an even more horrific story about a little boy being duct-taped and hung upside down as punishment in another daycare. How can so many adults feel that abusing children – even those who aren’t their own – is okay?
The first story happened at a North Dakota YMCA. KVLY-TV reports: “A parent was dropping off their child at the Y Learning Center, when they saw a 4 year old boy standing outside with no coat on. The boy told the parent he was being ‘punished’, and they called police.” It seems the teachers were having a hard time getting the child to put his outdoor apparel on, so they took him outside and told him to stand on his snowsuit until he was ready to put it on. The temperature was in the teens. The boy was brought in by another staff member and dressed. The other staff members have been suspended.
The second story happened in Pennsylvania at Just 4 Kids Daycare. The Daily Mail reports: “According to the Department of Public Welfare, two employees at Just 4 Kids Day Care and Learning Center in Hamlin held a child upside-down by his ankles to stop him from biting staff and made the boy walk around in underwear to punish him for soiling his pants. Officials say the boy’s hands and feet were duct-taped to keep him still.”
In situations like these, I usually just like to blame these actions on a few really misguided adults. But after reading some reactions to a piece my editor Eve Vawter wrote yesterday about a father whipping his teenage girls for posting a video of themselves dancing suggestively on Facebook – it became clear that many adults are not on the same page when it comes to physical abuse. With so many having cavalier attitudes regarding the abuse of children – frankly I’m not surprised that stories of abuse are surfacing daily.
To be fair, most commenters were condemning the father’s actions. And when it comes to stories of abuse in daycare – almost all agree that someone who is not a parent should not be physically disciplining a child. But the grey area lies in those who believe physical abuse is okay in the home – that it’s a parent’s decision and that’s that. I can only believe that this fosters an environment of abuse that spills over into other aspects of life. I would put money on the idea that the teachers who thought it was okay to duct-tape a child as punishment probably had some pretty awful punishment inflicted on them when they were children as well. This sort of behavior has to be learned somewhere, doesn’t it?
The point is – we are expected to model every other right behavior for our kids. From brushing our teeth, to saying “thank you” to being respectful of others. In what way are we modeling “right” behavior when we use physical violence to correct behavioral problems? The only thing that accomplishes is the lesson that force and pain gets you what you want.
That is not a lesson I am willing to teach my children.