The Constitution clearly states that educating children is the exclusive domain of each individual state. I would add an important phrase:”and of the parents.” A friend of many years recently complained to me that he was afraid that if he reprimanded his children the state would intervene and punish him. Such nonsense is the result of bureaucrats encroaching on our privacy and absolute right to punish our children as and when we see fit; the unwritten but well-understood rule is “without harming them.”
Today’s children know very well that CPS is ready to pounce on “unfit” parents and some of them blackmail their progenitors in order to obtain their wish. The problem is compounded by the laissez-faire attitude of many parents and the fact that so many kids come to an empty home after school. Without a guide and a moral example at home, boys and girls tend to be influenced by older confused children and misguided peers. The television fare to which they suscribe for at least 4 hours a day certainly doesn’t help them form a healthy criteria.
Many of today’s successful and model citizens felt the caress of their dad’s belt occasionally as children or the good spanking given by their loving mom. Fifty years ago, the corporeal punishment was routinely administered even in schools without any interference from the government. Nowadays, young people, with some notable exceptions, feel that they are entitled without having done the work to deserve it. “Give me” is a common phrase heard in many families rich or poor. In order to have peace at home, parents give in and satisfy the material request.
“Punish with love” is a phrase my mother often repeated as she metered out my well-deserved slap. That is the key that parents would do well to remember. A child is fully aware that he or she has misbehaved and that consequences must follow. That is just! Nothing riles up kids more than injustice; they complain loudly when their siblings seem to receive a more favorable treatment. A wise parent talks to all of them frequently and patiently, explaining the circumstances and the decision. Many teachers try to help parents in instilling moral values to their students. Only one big problem: They have between 25 and 150 kids to take care of every day. Nevertheless, their role as surrogate parents is essential in making a difference while there is a chance to mold a young mind.
Interference by the state government in family affairs should be limited to serious cases of criminal behavior such as leaving kids in a hot car, physical violence between parents, drug use, prostitution, sexual abuse and neglect. A simple phone call by an 11-year old claiming abuse should not result in a show of force by law enforcement and CPS. It should be handled discreetly, so as not to publicly humiliate innocent parents. We often forget that the media sometimes contributes to the public condemnation of innocent people by publishing their photos on the front page. Let us work with local agencies and law enforcement to determine whether a child has been criminally mistreated before we splash the case on the local television channel.
We have become a complacent nation with regard to education; we forget that kids need strict guidance and superior role models. We are limiting the power of parents and teachers to enforce discipline, a value that is essential in a successful adult life. It is natural for kids to test their boundaries, to explore, to talk back, to disobey their elders, to misbehave. We have to show them, with love and care, that there are limits and that society expects them to follow certain rules. Parents, teachers and local agencies should all work together to make sure the message is understood.