A chance for the other side of the 'anti-smacking' story
I am an independent writer, not associated with any political or religious group, but simply concerned for the future of the next generation in the light of the upcoming referendum. I am hoping to find, via this general e-mail, at least one representative of the media able to understand the dynamics that shape history - someone interested in topics rather than gossip, capable of more than simply taking at face-value what politicians and academics tell them, and who is willing to consider making this letter, or the attached extract, public. You can choose to ignore it, of course, but those who choose to be fooled today cannot claim innocence tomorrow.
One of the most powerful arguments in favour of freedom of speech is that our democracy depends on it, because fair elections depend on free debate and the media ensures honesty (J. Arthur: 'Sticks and Stones', 2002). Yet in our information age the biggest threat to liberty is the information avalanche that causes people to simply repeat the superficial and most popular messages without being able to get to the real issues. So, despite the amount and the speed of information increasing, people actually read less. The social effects of this loss of substantial information has the potential of sending all of western civilization back into another Dark Age.
In 2006 I approached several media sources (possibly not yours) with predictions about the consequences from the introduction of the anti-smacking bill. It didn't take much psychological understanding to see the danger to the emotional health of our children and even less philosophical insight to foresee the increase in violence that would result from it, since a similar law was in effect in other countries.
You are the media, in the position to censor popularity by choosing what becomes front page news, and, thus, influence the public opinion, on which you also depend. Consequently, letters like mine (from an unknown and unimportant voter) are ignored in favour of 'official' or 'expert' opinions, even if these contain outright lies (since people have been criminalised). Other recent examples of this power to influence include the putting forward of 'impartial' surveys accompanied by pictures of children being hit in the face (which is not a smack), articles quoting paediatricians without mentioning that paediatricians never see a child for having been smacked, and the implicit suggestion that every person who opposes that bill must be a religious fanatic.
The problem with this superficial coverage is that most people are made to believe the propaganda - with slogans, quotes from people with impressive sounding titles and subliminal messages ( "professor so-and-so said", "positive parenting", and "not raising a hand") - that accompanies the promise that abuse will be stopped. A big fuss about the petition being confusing keeps people in the dark about the real topic, as they are kept unaware that first Labour, and then Sue Bradford, have changed their mind (and in doing so essentially betrayed their voters) about the bill actually being able to stop child abuse.
Despite the evidence to the contrary, the government insists that 'good' parents don't have to fear the law, but they are unable to see that the damage is done long before prosecution; that criminalisation includes the police coming to the door, the gossip of the neighbours, the loss of a job due to false accusations, the children asking why the police yelled at daddy, and the panic caused in parents when their child starts to cry on the street. So-called family support organisations pride themselves on 'teaching' parents the 'correct' way to raise children, but neglect to tell their readers that they encourage teachers, physicians, and parents to drug 'problem' children with Ritalin. They base their 'expert' reports on surveys among families, yet they don't mention the fact that people volunteering for such surveys are generally of a personality type which won't question the 'expert' opinion.
It takes no more than common sense to see that people have different personalities; there are those with an eye for practical short term problems and others who see the big picture; there are those who judge and those who are non-conformists; there are those who are very physical (who like danger, fight, enjoy physical love relationships and who respect physical responses) and those who are more reserved and prefer words. It follows that people with like personalities end up in similar jobs. Consequently, people in committees, like most politicians and the police, don't have the personality to see the long-term effects of their actions (they are pragmatists, and excel in dealing with small-print bureaucracy or immediate action), and they buy what the 'experts' feed them, unable to see that academics are equally dependent on the public opinion, because psychologists won't test for what isn't funded and most of them are also conformists.
More and more reports of violence or people looking the other way when somebody gets hurt has the media asking, "What is happening to our society?"
Well, that is simple; more and more children (fifty percent of whom are physical by nature) are being raised with State Sanctioned Emotional Neglect, and we are starting to see more and more of its effects.
My issue is this: Most alert parents with more than one child know from experience that children are different from birth and that they need different sets of limits. Up until recently this understanding was perfectly clear within families, but lately even confident and capable parents have been weary of expressing their natural responses (until they come to an explosion), and thus they walk away, emotionally, by spending more and more time at work or by bribing children with whatever material replacement it takes to stop them getting into danger. The result is that children as young as eight are reaching for food, drugs, blackmail, verbal and physical violence, gang membership, or even suicide to compensate for the cold treatment. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that every obese child is emotionally neglected.)
Politicians treat each of these problems as unrelated because of their short-term solution personality and counsellors happily carry on labelling intellectual children with inventions like 'Aspergers' (those non-physical children who are the future academics, while those of today are responding to the parenting they grew up with) or ADD for being a physical child, and politicians keep promising that zero tolerance will stop abuse: nothing is further from the truth.
To deny a physical child the direct and honest physical response he needs - by sending him in a time-out, for example - is to tell him that you don't love him, that he is not good enough; a smack respects such a personality (as much as not smacking respects an non-physical person) because the message is to the behaviour, not the person. Children who don't feel loved (especially physical children) reach for physical alternatives.
Freedom comes with security, because ambiguity and unpredictability cause fear, and fear inhibits freedom. Thus, if the rules and repercussions are clear (whether in a society or in a family and regardless of whether these repercussions are physical or not), people have the choice between obeying or taking the consequences, and children are perfectly capable of making that choice consciously, as consciously as they today choose to threaten their parents and teachers with the police if they don't get what they want.
The simple problem is that to treat all people with the responses suitable for just one personality is to discriminate against the others; a law that incriminates people for who they are by nature is a violation of their human rights (see below). The truth is that officials prefer to deny the existence of different personalities because it removes the simplicity of blaming problems on syndromes (put the blame with the child who can't defend himself) or misguided parental care (causing good parents feelings of inadequacy and guilt, which are major causes of uncontrolled violence), and since SSEN cannot be attacked with pharmaceuticals, that industry won't support the research they are pumping into those 'syndromes' (evidence depends on interpretation) that are being officially promoted to replace what parental control is no longer allowed.
Apart from the individual harm done to children being emotionally abused (being forced to take obedience drugs) or neglected in this manner, all of which infringe on the rights of children, SSEN is a real and serious problem with disastrous social consequences, which were explicitly described by Plato in his Republic. Like in Plato's time, today's children are raised with the message that everything goes and that nobody is allowed to stop them. The anarchy that is a direct result of this leniency is already here (just pick up any newspaper); the resulting dictatorship may take another generation, but it will be on the shoulders of today's politicians, because, regardless of their political agenda, any other issue becomes irrelevant if what we do to the next generation will jeopardise the survival of the democracy.
I am not expecting you to take my word for it; I am merely asking you to allow the other side a voice that can actually be heard through the noise and not give priority of front page news (which is the only thing most people read anymore) to the word of offcials or academics just because they have a title or popularity. Anybody with a little insight into the patterns that rule human society need only look at the daily news to see that SSEN is seriously threatening the democracy and the emotional health of the next generation, and that academic psychology is under the control of those who fund the research. Politicians are not able to see it and if we have to wait for academics to change their mind, too much damage will be done; you are the media, praised for keeping the democratic process honest, so do something: give the other side a voice before it is too late.
The attached extract of my book, The Happiness Inquisition (which was written specifically for the upcoming referendum) explains the dangers. The rest of the book addresses not the abuse itself, but the social pressure that leads to it.
In the hope that somebody will find it, or this letter, worthwhile as an opposing view to that of the government, I leave it in your hands; please send it on, make it public or read it out; criticize it (in public) if you wish, but don't ignore it.
This is the best I, as a fiction writer, can do. Thank you for your time.
Sincerely, Nōnen Títi (www.nonentiti.com)
- Articles 9 and 12 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights protect people from arbitrary arrest or interference: The police harassing innocent parents on the basis of anonymous calls is ARBITRARY (The Child, Youth and Family website states that reports can be anonymous).
- Article 16 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states that the family unit is the fundamental and natural group and entitled to protection by the state:. Today the state is taking over child-rearing from perfectly capable families.
- Article 25 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states that individuals and families have a right to well-being and health and that children shall have social protection: Health includes mental and emotional health, which is violated if families have to live in fear of the police knocking on their door because a child was crying, and social protection does not include drugging children for obedience.
- Article 26 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states that parents have the right to choose their children's education and this education shall be directed at the full development of human personality: But education begins in the home and people have different personalities and, thus, need a different approach. To respond to all children with the treatment suitable for only one personality is to discriminate against the others.