Oh the debate goes ever on and on some cities, counties and states outlawing it, restricting it, others upholding, continuing a long held tradition, going so far as to allow it in school as the nation found out when an Alabama boy was paddled by his teacher for failing a paper; more areas bringing it back, including some schools saying the threat of it helps keep kids in line. Actions championed by older generations saying kids today have it too easy, asserting parents are afraid to be parents, afraid to discipline their children because of how far the government, the state steps into people’s lives, how quickly your children could be taken from you. Ones who believe all, or the majority, of society’s ills could be eliminated, greatly reduced if we reinstituted spanking lashing out at multitudes of characterized liberation and democratic voters who call it archaic, the invoking of biblical scriptures not simply out of touch with current times, social trends harkening back to slavery, but inconsistent with both what the bible meant and what we know about child development, human psychology, child or adult, counterproductive to achieving good behavior, functional citizens and a less violent, aggressive society. The former probably thought the beating with a belt of an 11 year old suspected of joining a gang along with getting poor grades in school was not only justified but par for the course of what would have happened 30-50 years ago had they done the same thing, and they are not alone. Many saw the Facebook video depicting the “whooping, spanking, parental discipline, vicious beating” of Demecio Powell as acceptable considering his offence, according to persons seen in the video now in jail on abuse charges, of claiming to be in a gang, purportedly based on postings to his Facebook page, taking into account he lives in Flint Michigan rife with gang activity, commenters hoping the now incarcerated adults get off light for performing some sort of twisted public service in not creating another “hood rat.” The latter, even pro spanking advocates who want it brought back for the better of American social structure, to teach kids proper respect, manners, responsibility, boundaries and limits, having experienced their own “azz whopings,” in their childhood, were quick to call this abuse supporting police’s decision to hold the 3 persons on charges.
Leaving us once again a nation divided on key social issues, a nation that has yet to learn parenting, discipline shouldn’t ever have to incorporate violence, hitting, no matter the object, no matter the number of times a child is hit or for what supposed infraction. Leaving us a nation applying the wrong debate to this situation that isn’t about a parent’s right to raise, discipline a child as they see fit, it’s about when your method of child rearing clearly steps over the line, especially in video format that does not lie, when we the public could and will be negatively impacted by your childrearing choices. As equally disturbing as what happened to young Demecio is how frequent a trend this is becoming, no, not spanking your children, a method that has been around through the ages, but rather its extreme counterpart resurging in the name of gaining control over an “out of control society” purportedly evidenced by examples of adults being mouthed off to, disrespected, children, teens, young adults stealing, running wild, even killing, injuring homeless people, mentally ill persons, developmentally delayed persons, reportedly because they were board, stories flashed all over the news. However also flashed all over the news the court judge shown on tape repeatedly striking his 16 year old daughter, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, with a belt for refusing to get off the computer, as opposed to simply taking away the computer. A judge who found himself expediently and abruptly unelected when his term was up, a judge who huge sections of Americans, local constituents thought should know better, who never regretted what he’d done, never thought for one second he’d gone too far. The IT dad who created a video including him shooting his daughters laptop because of unflattering things about him, her family she posted on Facebook, instead of using his IT skills to block her access to Facebook, restricting her PC use to homework; overwhelmed at public reaction, unnerved people thought he had over reacted, crossed a line, annoyed child services had to do a cursory welfare check. Countless similar videos showing the downright beatings of children in the name of old school discipline, boundaries, limits; people who show no understanding not everyone will tolerate their actions, no comprehension they could go to jail for what they term discipline and justly so, no hesitation in putting their personal business on the internet ripe for world view, profoundly ignorant to consequences incurred doing so. Simultaneously, utterly shocking also are some of the laws in place regarding spanking, beyond stating its legality in whatever region, listening to the video above you hear the news person in Texas say belts and hairbrushes are ok providing there are no welts, bruising or injury needing medical attention, you do not spank in anger. Hold on, belts and hairbrushes are ok that should send chills down all our spines, have us all feeling more than a little creepy. Further prosecuting a parent solely for spanking in anger is nearly as difficult as making biblical law the only law and trying to prove a man coveted his neighbor’s wife while he’s bearing false witness about doing so; the only things you effectively see are results of either, meaning damage is already done, legal intervention comes too late. Likewise to be challenged is our repeated use of biblical phrases to justify hitting, beating, spanking our kids, spare the rod spoil the child is the favorite, or the Old Testament law/option you could bring a disobedient child to the temple to be stoned to death. Forget unknown is how many actually used said option, modern or not, interpretations that translate spare the correction spoil the child, making more contextual sense considering the bible also uses heavy amounts of metaphor, the equally popular psalm quote “thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” and the question how could a rod, if it was meant to discipline children, people, causing pain in the process, be comforting; except the rod in that psalm represents advice, guidance tutelage, and the staff physical direction. Direly important is they are not the only key phrases on children, parenting; there are rules for parents too, not provoking your children to wrath being one. In the New Testament Jesus said it would be better for a man, a person to tie a stone around his neck and cast himself into the lake rather than hurt one of these [little children]. Continuing we need to shake off our1950’s notion of respect, the idea your age automatically guarantees you the right to, authority over, anyone younger than you, to give advice, boss them around, to be listened to by any and all members of the public. Our idea that decade, ones after it, were perfect, adults could do no wrong, children and society were so much better owing to spanking as discipline; that’s not how it was in the 1950’s 60’s or 70’s, certainly not how it should be now in light of how many child predators there are, how many adults will take advantage of children if they can, in light of adults, those old enough to have been subject to spanking “the way it should be done,” behaving badly. It’s just not true; adult penchants toward the arbitrary were perhaps worse then than they are now. Similarly do we want our children respecting people a-la Michael Dunn, Cutis Reaves, George Zimmerman seeing what they have done?
Click here to hear the story of a man destroyed by adults’ application of arbitrary rules and corporal punishment
Returning to Demecio, it isn’t just that 60 whacks with a belt is excessive, by law appearing to cross the line to child abuse, it isn’t the basic reality that looking at what persons in above video footage actually did to this preteen boy clearly violates even the most lenient state, city, county guidelines on spanking, what is or isn’t tolerated employing corporal punishment. When he isn’t exclusively being hit on his behind or whacks landing on other body parts because he is refusing to hold still and take assigned punishment, but rather because the person administering said punishment purposefully aimed for the lower legs at one point, had no care that she was hitting his upper body between hip and ribcage at another, angry with his refusal to answer a question, hit him directly in the chest coming down on his hand due to where she was sitting adjacent to him during his 6 minute “spanking.” It’s added to all that, what transpired here was completely ineffective and inappropriately administered to be anything other than a cruel, sadistic example fueling exactly why anti-spanking advocates want a federal law banning the practice in every home, school, daycare, establishment remotely responsible for the welfare of children and offenders to serve jail time. Unlike spankings older generations received years ago, putting aside the decades between 1950-1980 saw some of the most horrific and prolific serial killers despite the commonplace use of spanking, it lacks the control, measured, calculated response signaling discipline over an obviously chaotic, rage fueled rant. This isn’t like the spanking my 12 year old cousin once received for repeatedly mouthing off to his teacher where the offense was stated, he received 5 swats with a belt, was warned if his grandfather, whom he lived with, had to do it again he would receive 10 and so on, and life went on; my cousin left to think about what he had done wrong. This isn’t remotely relatable to the father who warned his son, roughly the same age, if he had to come to school again because his son got in trouble he would be spanked with his belt; then when that happened the father took him to the bathroom gave him 5 swats and sent him back to class. Child later calling 911, child services intervened, it was eventually determined only discipline took place, the father won custody and the son learned the difference between the two. Here, even accounting for cultural differences seen in African American and other communities, it resembles instead rambling difficult to understand for an adult never mind for an 11 year old child still developing emotionally, still developing cognitively. Filming begins with the boy being slapped hard in the face for not speaking loud enough, not knowing what the people filming want him to say into the camera, then the boy is seeming to be spanked because he refuses to talk about what/why his is having problems in school, at one point his mother tugs on his shirt saying he likes swag, looking like a thug, afterwards the woman with the belt resumes hitting him while yelling his isn’t a thug, eventually the woman “spanking” him tells him to empty his pockets, housing 2 cellphones, while man holding video camera accuses boy of stealing them, woman yelling you take phones to school finally asking where he got them, his response aunt Courtney, seeming to pacify his tormenters moving on to vague admonishments about school performance. There are no quotes about what exactly he posted on Facebook making them believe he was pretending, acting, trying to be a thug, gangbanger, there are no classes listed he is failing, assignments he did not complete, calls home from his teacher complaining about behavior, detentions served, suspensions given, notes parents were required to sign. Indicating they have no real idea what’s going on with this child.
Moreover making people think something besides old school discipline is occurring, 2 out of 3 people in the video, arrested are no biological relation to Demecio. His mother is not the one doling out Demecio’s punishment, our belt wielding woman named in news reports as everyone from grandmother to godmother, is actually family friend Uteas Taylor 42, the man behind the camera, once depicted as his father, is not; he is her boyfriend 40 year old Stefan Felton who refuses to show his face on film describing himself as a wanted criminal, according to local reports has an extensive rap sheet, explaining Demecio’s reluctance to talk to people he may barely know. Their decision to post what they did to him on Facebook only solidifies arguments leaning toward abuse particularly when coupled with adjoining comments. From the beginning the parent nearly daring anyone viewing to call CPS (child protective services), Taylor saying quote “usually I tell you to take them pants, referring to his jeans, potentially his underwear, down but…Felton completing her sentence stating there’s ladies in the house;” viewers knowing immediately the authentic reason is their intent to post it on Facebook and how his naked behind could be perceived, pointing to them knowing what they are doing is wrong, going too far. Rightly commiserate with those of the opinion, if they spent less time posting things on Facebook and a little more time parenting, moments like these would be unnecessary. When he begins to squirm roughly half way through the film and 30 whacks given, he is mocked by the camera man saying he’s doing the “stinky leg” and something incomprehensible about liking girls, having nothing to do with why they think he is misbehaving, getting bad grades; he is mocked as a thief before they even bother to ask where he got the phones, proving they could care less about fact and are only going on their perception of his behavior. Lining up with what multitudes of commenters subject to the same type of “spanking,” who eventually came to the conclusion their spankers weren’t especially mad at them, unfortunately mad at life and taking it out on them. Understandable in this situation because Demecio is not Taylor’s son, grandson, his issues should not be her problem, but that’s when you hand his mother the belt and say if you want him spanked, do it yourself, he is your son, your responsibility. Anything else is a hardcore definition of abuse; if you are spanking your kid, tween, teen less because of their “bad” behavior and more because you are pissed you had to deal with it, pissed you don’t have time to deal with it, frustrated about other things, you are committing abuse! Remember too these people were not arrested for violating a newfangled state, city or county statute preventing the spanking of children, yours or those in your care; they were arrested on straight up child abuse, much older portions of Michigan penal code. People familiar with my other commentaries on spanking as well as trends tending toward shaming making kids hold signs, putting children’s bad behavior on blast in every conceivable place on the internet are probably wondering what exactly I recommend; simple answer, better, non-violent, non-public-display parenting.
Frist, how does he have a Facebook page at 11 when the minimum age requirement is 13; presuming you did let him have said page, where were the rules for it given to him prior to use, where were you monitoring what he put there? Secondly, what parent allows someone else to discipline their child, spank their child when they are right there and can do it; who calls in a family friend instead of owning what they want done? Most parents are fine giving a spanking when deemed appropriate, but it is a right they reserve for themselves, not the school, not the relatives, not the daycare/babysitter, the only other person allowed to do that is the father. If you don’t like the clothes he’s wearing, think they too closely resembles local gang attire, then don’t buy those specific things, don’t allow family to do so, if you are giving him an allowance and this is what he buys, stop. Next, if you believe your child has been approached, recruited propositioned to join a gang, is flirting with gang life, activity restrict his movements; he’s allowed to go home, to go to school, nowhere else until further notice, parameters that should have already been in place at 11, living where this family does. After that, you walk him to and from school, walk him to the bus stop, you be there to pick him up in the afternoon, sending a message to any gang members no you cannot have my son; utilize scared straight programs where troubled kids visit jails, speak with former gang members about what being in a gang really means. Following public comments on their story wondering why parents, persons concerned for the boy chose to beat him not the gang banger who had the audacity to attempt recruiting an 11 year old; on the contrary, there is no solid proof he was/is being pursued by a gang, seriously wants to join one. No one thought to ask why he posted whatever it is he did that started this; rather assuming and making an ass of themselves drawing the unfounded conclusion it was to look cool, make friends, get positive attention from a gang. To them it couldn’t possibly be to avoid neighborhood harassment to join, neighborhood, school bullying, and now his guardians will never know. She, his mother, should have been putting positive, especially male, role models into his life; sign him up for Big Brothers Big Sisters, get him involved with Boys & Girls Club so he has a positive place to go after school, can get help with homework, while she works and isn’t our running the streets. How about just being a positive role model herself, being his primary caregiver, setting an example on how to behave, how to be an upstanding citizen, good person; exhibiting the exact opposite, Demetria Powell also has a record, was on probation is either living with or allowing convicted felons in her home, around her son. Her Facebook page is little else but questionable photos of a baby covered in cash, small children playing with lots of real money, her in a cop outfit last Halloween, showcasing an apparent fascination with guns, video showing her smoking from a bong, leading news investigators, analysts to ask where do you suppose he truly got the idea her might want to be in a gang, the neighborhood, his friends, school or right there at home? Again following comments from people who state they never saw a gangbanger come from a stable home, quick to define stability as not necessarily a two parent household, a household with a stay at home parent, yet a household where, though the parent works, when they aren’t at work they are home, present, involved and engaged with their child, not out drinking, drugging, partying looking for their next bed warmer leaving their child to their own devices, hear their child did something wrong, spank them then go right back to doing their own thing wondering how it happened.
If the child really is having problems in school, hard to tell since, when asked about his grades, he meekly replies he doesn’t know, hasn’t seen them yet, you try to find out from his teacher what they believe that problem is; is he goofing off because he and his best friend are sitting at the same table solved by separating them, is he distracted because he does have his first age appropriate crush on a girl and it’s time to have those talks with him? If he is simply being defiant, is uninterested in classwork you start asking if he has homework, in conjunction with the teacher to avoid lying, you check homework to see that it completes the assignment, meets grade level standards, help him if he needs help and why weren’t you doing that anyway, you try to find out why he doesn’t like school, a certain subject, learning what his best and worst subjects are. Does he simply not understand the work; does he need tutoring, assessment for possible learning disability, to repeat the grade in order to grasp the concepts? Ensuring the problem isn’t an incompetent, biased teacher singling him out because he lives in “that” neighborhood or “always acts that way,” checking that neither the teacher, curriculum or school are biased against boys in general supported by newly released study findings on teacher attitudes toward fidgeting more common in boys, assignments geared to increasing standards and test scores also better geared to how girls learn, pencil, paper, sit down do this, rather than hands on, physical interaction with objects, mechanical manipulation, how boys learn best. And finally you never attempt to get a boy to talk by making him do so, threating him with loss of privileges or other negative consequences to elicit answers from him, let alone hit him, as Uteas Taylor openly does in the video; a better, actually effective technique that works in getting adolescent, teen boys to be honest, tell you what they are thinking and feeling, action talk whereby you get him engaged in an activity fishing, video games, wood working, drawing, anything where his hands are active, doing the activity with him. Then asking question about school, behavior, changes in attitude. Tracking with story readers’ comments about the effort you must put into parenting vs. implications spanking is an all to regular occurrence in Demecio’s household based on in video comments and viewer observation about his reaction, lack of reaction to being spanked this way; coinciding with locals adding to that their notations stating they know these people, live near them describing the mother, Demetria, as a shifty parent, regularly drinking and her son as a delinquent setting dumpsters on fire, stealing from stores, drawing direct correlations between the two. Proof positive of the difference between a lack of parenting and a lack of discipline, a lack of discipline and a lack of spanking; the pure fact raising a child should consist of 90% parenting, supervision, teaching, tutelage, advice, guidance, love, care, interaction and 10% discipline, consequences for negative, unacceptable behavior.
Worse than the abuse perpetuated against Demecio Powell, the people cheering adults in the video on, saying there was no abuse just a deserved azz whopping is the plethora of potential consequences; if Demecio wasn’t/isn’t in a gang, his, let’s call them what they are, abusers have given him every reason to join one should he believe the gang will take revenge, retaliate for what they did to him. If his problems are academic, stemming from a learning disability, school bias, distraction due to bullying, girls, not only will his “spanking” not help him do better, help him solve his problem or change the outcome, it will only serve to make him feel worse about himself for something he cannot fix on his own, serve to make him angry, frustrated and act out more. Presuming he is age appropriately interested in girls, or even more detrimental, if he’s not, when he is, the painful spanking and murky comments will only make him think there is something wrong with that, wrong about the pubescent changes he is, or soon will be going through, instilling shame around normal puberty, sexuality. Insert larger societal implications, most laughed the members of the HLN panel out of their TV screens when some deemed this ignorance, cluelessness, pointed to the generational component, comments demonstrating a cycle of parental domestic violence, called for education of parents because of the scores of videos like it throughout cyberspace defending the old school ways saying it saved them and many others from being various versions of criminal featured on the 10:00 news, set them straight and kept them out of trouble. Even more scoff connecting scenes like this with violent behavior, from aggression to downright rage, domestic violence, hatred of women, rape of women who look like the domineering female figure in their life; they obviously didn’t see Demecio’s mother at one point asking if he was mad at her right now in the midst of his, let’s call it what it is, beating, mocking him for being mad at her during his “discipline.” Correlations clearly seen, when you bother to look at the equal number of anecdotal accounts, also on the internet, juxtaposed beside spanking parents who swear by the good spanking does their children, from spanked kids now adults describing PTSD, anger management issues, struggles to have a normal, healthy sexual relationship; such is the true, still hidden legacy of spanking. Too kids are so “out of control” without spanking less because it was ever so effective and more because we, the adults, we the older generation, have spent the last 30 odd years regaling them with tales from the old days about being hit until they couldn’t sit down, use of switches, belts, hairbrushes, spoons; the gauntlet was too high making them believe that is the worst thing that can happen to them, both giving them their mocking arrogance about discipline, when there are now laws in place curtailing corporal punishment, and keeping parents in a stunted state of believing I have to hit/spank to get through to my child. Instead of changing the conversation to you do something wrong, there will be consequences you don’t like, explaining rules based on safety, order, law and respecting other people’s rights and feelings vs. because I said so or I am the parent, the adult and I am in charge, denying children activities, privileges and friends based on your own prejudices, not something that is wrong, goes against your religious belief or is unwise, unsafe for the child’s age. There should be no debate regarding what happened to Demecio; people should look at that and instantaneously understand it is abuse, know there is no justification, view the components, the posting on Facebook and decry it as acceptable, something to emulate. We all should have a vested interest in stopping scenarios like this lest we become the victims of the abused.