Why Are All These 'Respectable' People Abusing Children?

They all seemed so nice, all those respectable people who are now in the news for abusing children or failing to report it.

Last week, there was the sensational YouTube video of Judge William Adams, the rat-bag family court judge down in Texas. In a video that went viral, he savagely beats his disabled 16 year-old daughter with a heavy leather belt for almost 8 minutes. The video has had almost 6 million views. The story went national, and the beleaguered Adams finally issued a statement about it. He clearly sees himself as the victim. He believes the problem is not the savage beating he administered to a girl with cerebral palsy, but that his vindictive daughter had the unmitigated gall to be unhappy about being beaten. As a judge, he makes rulings on issues of child custody and child welfare, so he must know what’s right in such matters.

And this weekend, reports of alleged child sex abuse by former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky engulfed the storied football program at Penn State University. As with so many scandals, it’s not just the crime, it’s also the cover-up that causes problems. Tim Curley, athletics director, and Gary Schultz, senior vice president for business and finance, have stepped aside and face charges stemming from their failure to report suspected child sex abuse to authorities. Maybe neither one of them has read a newspaper for the past decade and simply did not know about the grief surrounding the cover-ups of sex scandals in the Catholic Church.

Before the announcement of their stepping aside, Penn State president Graham Spanier tried to make things better by declaring that the two administrators have his “unqualified support.” Support for what? Not reporting sexual abuse of children to police? A qualification or two just might be in order.

And today, we have a story in the New York Times about Michael Pearl, a Tennessee evangelical preacher who wrote a book titled To Train Up a Child that cheerfully waxes on about beating infants with sticks. The Times story revolves around the death of three children who were beaten to death, all allegedly at the hands of parents who kept Pearls’ book in their homes.

You can buy your own copy of Pearl’s guide to punishment for just $7.95 on Amazon. You will also find helpful reviews of the book such as these:

“Probably the best guide I’ve seen for creating either: a) a life-long bully, b) someone afraid of their own shadow, or c) someone who’s good at not getting caught.”

“… it’s like I hitched a ride to crazy town! I am a pro-spanking parent. I understand a swift pop on the hand or leg, but there is a line between discipline and abuse. So when I get to page 74 is when I really thought these people are CRAZY!! They recommend to a mom, who has a 7 month old, to ‘switch’ him on the bare bottom or leg 7 to 8 times for getting angry.”

Or if you feel you still need even more peer support for your desire to beat children, you can just go to any number of pro-spanking websites, such as Adequacy.org, where they will tell you how those softy liberals are leading us all to hell in a hand-basket and how:

When I was growing up, there were three levels of misbehavior in our household
Fireplace Poker

Now here’s the thing that liberals can’t stand to hear: I am a better man because of it. When I was in school, I never once opened fire on a cafeteria full of my peers.

Goodness. What could a liberal possibly say in reply to that? The author certainly does set a high standard of personal responsibility for himself — restraining himself from committing an act of mass murder and all. I bet it was interesting sitting next to him the in the school cafeteria back in the day. “I wonder if this will be the day Bobbie Joe goes postal over the cold tater tots?”

But the problem for the pro-beating crowd is that a meta-study (a study of many other studies) published in the Psychological Bulletin in 2002 on the issue of corporal punishment found that while beating children may be useful for achieving short-term compliance, the use of corporal punishment is:

“associated overall with decreases in children’s moral internalization, operationalized as their long-term compliance, their feelings of guilt following misbehavior, and their tendencies to make reparations upon harming others.”
Elizabeth Thompson Gershoff, Columbia University

In normal English, that means people who have been beaten as children may have a less sensitive moral compass, may be more likely to act out against others, may feel less guilty about doing bad things to others (like beating their children), and may have a problem ever saying they’re sorry.

Those who commit acts of child abuse, those who cover up for it and those who facilitate it do an injury to us all. Whether they be judges, or coaches, or ministers or online book sellers, they do us injury. It’s time to call them out.