Saturday, November 5, 2011

Corporal Punishment, Judge Adams, and Buddhism

Judge Says Daughter's Beating was 'Discipline'

Nov. 3, 2011
A prominent Texas judge who was filmed beating his daughter with a belt and cursing at her said he was merely disciplining his child and did nothing wrong.

"No, in my mind I haven't done anything wrong other than discipline my child after she was caught stealing. And I did lose my temper, but I've since apologized," Judge William Adams told KZTV Wednesday after the video went viral on the internet.

The Practical Buddhist Responds
I’m a child and family psychologist. Some parents tell me they were beaten as kids and still turned out fine. For them that makes it OK to smack their own children. Baloney.
Kids survive hunger, live-threatening illnesses and horrible accidents. They “turn out OK” not because being sick or starved or traumatized is good for them, but because they are amazingly resilient.
Our country is at war on two fronts abroad and preparing for a nasty political fight at home. We are violence addicts. Half of the adult population still thinks humans have a right to kill other humans (mostly black and brown men) for their crimes.

The blogs are full of praise for the Texas judge who assaulted his daughter (and apparently his wife as well). I am horrified. 
I’ve got no problems with strict parenting, clear expectations, and consequences for behavior. I draw the line at the intentional infliction of pain – physical or emotional – by any human on another human. When one is an adult who is supposed to be a model of love, trust, and problem-solving and the other is a vulnerable, growing child, it’s simply wrong.
Here’s a comment on punishment from a Buddist priest:

A Buddhist Perspective on Punishment
By Kobutsu Malone, Zenji - Rinzai Zen Buddhist Priest
I speak from the perspective of a simple Buddhist priest - I have learned over the years through working with my own children, students, prisoners and my fellow human beings that any form of punishment, be it corporal or psychological, is injurious, causes pain and is counterproductive.
Punishment involves the deliberate infliction of physical or emotional pain or injury - on a being - by another person or persons who exercise a “power over” dynamic toward that being. The deliberate infliction of pain on an individual in response to an action after it has occurred can in no way change the effect of the original action nor can it serve to educate or awaken the individual. The physical or emotional pain or injury of punishment done to a child or an adult creates only fear and trauma, it not only damages the person being punished but it damages and enslaves those who inflict the punishment. The abuse of physical violence visited on anyone is a deliberate act which scapegoats the person through lack of control over our burden of internalized oppression.

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