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Spankings In Today's Black Community

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Spankings have not only been traditionally tolerated by the Black community but historically have been endorsed by most. This has been driven by the belief in African Tradition that people are more important than things and to violate people's feelings is deserving of punishment. I can attest to Black youth being better self-controlled, disciplined, and considerate of the feelings of others during the era of spankings prior to the mid-1950s. None of us who were paddled at home and at school voiced objections because we knew we deserved it—and felt it made us better individuals. Most spoke of not wanting to make their mothers angry for fear of immediate consequences. Of course, there were other scenarios of which I knew nothing about. In the 1960s many Black parents were beginning to lose control of their youth because of the “antiabuse” laws set up by White people-- laws that could get them arrested and jailed or have their children taken away. Black groups of males started getting more involved in fist fights that graduated into fighting with knives—an indication they were moving out of their Omnibus Brain operation into the “dark side” direction of White men. In the 1970s Black gangs started copycatting White mobsters like Al Capone and their "drive-by" shooting tactics. Such an increasing destructive pattern muddled the picture of whether their waywardness was due to the results of spankings; the lack of spankings; the sliding into the realm of brute personalities; or the bad behaviors that got them spanked in the first place.

Black Americans have a wide range of opinions about the disciplining of children and about the methods involved. But practically all agree that some method of discipline is essential for behaviors "outside the common sense structure" of what is acceptable. Many would agree that discipline is required for youth who even "lean" outside that structure. A prominent reason is that Black people have a lower tolerance for children looking disrespectful than most other cultures, based upon the African Law of Sympathy--that all God's creatures and creations deserve respect because they are made in the image of God. What is generally realized is that children like to — indeed, need to — test boundaries as they grow up. If they learn they can push those boundaries, they will keep doing it until they break beyond those boundaries.

However, by realizing they will be pushed back at a certain point, they come to know how far they can go. A substantial number of Black parents continue with spankings under the belief that sparing the rod is a kind of parental negligence. Hence, by having children experience a little pain now for their misdeeds is a way of sparing them from needless trials and tribulations in the future by outsiders who welcome the opportunity to destroy any Black youth’s life. There seems to be a tendency for affluent Black Americans to not do spankings.

Those who avoid spankings instead prepare for discipline from the beginning of the child’s ability to understand by grabbing the child’s attention and emphasizing that they are being held to a high standard of expectation to do the right and descent thing. This means the child has the idea of being expected to behave properly all the time and this is consistently reinforced without overlooking an inch of misbehaving--and certainly not overlooking any disrespect.

In between those parents who do and do not spank are varying degrees of different ways of disciplining.

Some simply give “the look.” Others do a great deal of threatening to spank. Some spank when all other avenues -- lectures, timeouts, threats of taking away privileges – fail but only when it is really, really needed. It is done immediately so the youth can make the connection between the improper action and the pain of the spanking. Some use a combination of methods. Some spank immediately when the child has clearly done a dangerous act or to serve as a warning in specific circumstances.

The general gist of one such prophylactic circumstance is: "If he's not listening, and he can hurt himself or others, I'd rather spank him than go to the emergency room." In the mild form, the parent's one hand is used for a single swat on the buttocks.

A slight form might be more than one swat but with parental temper under control. A moderate form includes several lashes with a switch when the parent is furious with the child. This scares the child and prevents them from understanding. An extreme form is something more than that of the moderate form and is in the realm of abuse. Fundamental to rearing children is to stay in close contact with all that happens to them--e.g. with family outings; eating and working together; daily Family Talks; charity; and church.

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