This comedic take on South-asian corporal punishment by Russel Peters and How the Establishment Thinks are in stark contrast. Now, I’m not suggesting that beating kids is funny. Of course it is a serious matter that affects children every year in horrible ways. I’m glad that we have watch groups because we really do need them. Unfortunately, the watch groups don’t always help the situation they are attempting to resolve. I also fear that they often act as cultural reform groups instead of child advocacy groups.
First, let me say that I am biased. I have had only one positive interaction with any child protective service. And that was primary based on me decision to move to a location where the local culture was more in line with my personal philosophies.
In the Southern United States, my experience with child protection was a pathetic excuse for child protection. What it really was, was the enforcement of local cultural norms in the name of child safety. For one, as a child I needed child protection to keep a three time sexual offender away. He was on probation when he committed his sexual offences on my less than 10 year old self. And although he confessed to his crimes, he was ultimately let free after one year in jail. Why? Because the local child protection team had failed to do their jobs properly. Oh and another thing…they repeatedly blamed me for “seducing” said child molester. Because you know, children are such great tools of seduction.
Moving on into adulthood when I had my own child. I learned that child protection teams in that region of the south are also forces to be used by men in custody battles. These agencies will suggest that they are attempting to balance out the fact that “women make too many false claims in divorces.” Well, attempting to balance out statistics instead of viewing each individual case on its merits doesn’t make for a good investigation. This agency wasted the better part of six months investigating extended breast-feeding, co-sleeping, elimination communication, and the general concept of attachment parenting because in that community the norm is beating/abusing/molesting your child and the weird thing is to actually consciously parent your child. In fact that regions senior director of the child protection team was arrested last year for molesting more than 100 of the children that were being investigated for abuse they suffered. I wish I could say I was making this up.
Moving on to when culture and norms collide. These social norm enforcing teams waste no time in prosecuting immigrant families and other racial groups (read: not white people) for abusing their children because their form of corporal punishment involved a smack to the head and not a spank on the rear. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying its okay to punch your child in the face. I have witnessed these head smacks and it is hardly cruel and unusual punishment. I’d have to say some of the tortuous tasks of hours of violin playing listed in the book Tiger Mom was more emotionally abusive and damaging than the sort of corporal punishment I’m referring to.
I was hit as a child and I don’t think that I have suffered any serious damage from most of the hitting I went through. I wouldn’t ever strike my child in many of the ways I was stricken. I strongly believe that using instruments is wrong. I was belted, whipped, smacked with spoons and paddles, and switched. For those of you that don’t know what a switch is, consider yourself lucky. But I do believe that to label all forms of corporal punishment other than butt spanking is paramount to cultural norm enforcement and not child protection. Why is smacking a kid’s head worse than bruising their rear just because of where the striking took place? When the smack to the child’s head didn’t result in any damage and definitely not bruising.
Its a big fat gray line on where and how to strike a child and how and when its okay. But I definitely think that some Asian families have a reason to fear where many white families don’t. For instance, whites that were born and raised here get to benefit from cultural privilege. They are going to be perceived as a more typical parent. In addition with fluent English skills comes another preference. When an investigator is having difficulty communicating with the parents, they are going to be naturally prejudiced. Who knows how to draw this line? I draw it at using weapons and leaving swelling and bruising. That’s unacceptable in my eyes.