Indian children were never whipped and they were never disobedient. They were never thieves--until the white man made them so. They grew in a natural normal way. Mind, body and soul expanded in a perfectly normal way. Their instincts and their environment harmonized. Their punishments were the natural and inevitable results of their deeds. Such punishment bears a natural and obvious connection with the. deed. The child can see the connection. This is natural discipline, against which man does not rebel.
Until recent years so-called Christians, who disregard the warning of Jesus to those who "offend one of these little ones," and his admonition not to "render evil for evil," and to be "not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good," hardly ever thought of training children except by some means of corporal punishment.
Women, children, slaves, criminals, and dumb brutes were beaten. It is now against the law to beat women and slaves. Criminals are beaten only furtively. The Societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals have stopped much of the beating of animals. But parents have not been reformed. The humane spirit has not extended to the care of children--except to a limited extent.
Whipping has been prohibited in many public and private schools, and in some reform schools. One state reform school reported an immediate improvement in the conduct of its 179 boys, representing all ages, when the no-whipping rule went into effect.
Family discipline still includes much whipping, slapping, spanking, threats and blows. Neighbors or the police interfere only where the punishments are known to be extremely severe, but then only in an insignificant number of such cases as occur.
Children are beaten with rods, limbs of trees, straps, paddles, etc., and are slapped and cuffed with open palms. They are 'beaten for wrong doing when the parents are really to blame. Parents have neglected to properly instruct their children.
Children learn best in an atmosphere of gentleness and kindness. They expand best when not repressed by fear of punishment. If their actions are all determined by fear, they change their actions as soon as they grow up and escape from fear of punishment. Fear of punishment forms a very unstable and unsatisfactory basis for conduct. Yet there are many who slap and beat their children almost constantly. There are some who slap the hands and faces of their children for the most trivial things. They scold them and nag them almost continuously. Their children live in a more or less constant state of fear and confusion. This breaks the spirit of many children and thoroughly conquers them. Their self-reliance, innate initiative, self-assertiveness and personalities are repressed. Often they never cast off this spell of repression.
Other children, the more wilful and spirited kind, are made rebellious and unmanageable. They become criminals as a direct result of this cruelty. If their indomitable and unconquerable spirits are rightly directed and instructed, they will give us leaders, great men, builders--men who do things.
If you have a child who has a will of his own, who insists on exercising his own will, don't be anxious to break and subdue that will. Get down on your knees and thank God that you have a child that dares to be himself. Such a child must be handled carefully and patiently. But for heaven's sake don't try to conquer him or subdue him. Don't spoil those splendid qualities that are unfolding in him.
Don't cause your children to lose their love and respect (or you. Don't build rebellion in them. Don't teach them to lie and deceive to avoid punishment.
A young boy, age 17 years, whose father had beaten him severely at frequent intervals during life said: "I only hope I live long enough, and grow large enough, that I can pay my father back for some of the blows he has struck me."
Surely, this is an attitude that no father would desire his son to have toward him. Yet, this attitude was cultivated by the father. He, and not the boy, is responsible for this feeling of enmity and resentment. It is the outcome of the savage practice of beating children when they don't please us. And this feeling exists to a greater or less degree in the minds of all whose parents beat them. A few old hypocrites declare that they are thankful for the beatings their parents gave them.
No child was ever made better by beating. No amount of torture increases the child's love of and respect for its parent. It builds feat of the parent. A young mother called her children into the house. "Come in here and sit down," she commanded. Commencing with the oldest and going down to the youngest they filed by her and took their seats. As the youngest child passed her mother, she drew away, saying, "Mamma, don't hit me. Mamma don't hit me." The obedience of those children was due to fear and they will continue to obey only so long as they continue to fear. As soon as they are large enough, that they no longer fear their mother, they will do as they please and she will have no more control over them. Her weapon is fear and time will rob her of this.
A household of unruly and disobedient children is the product of lazy and unintelligent parents. Parents who are too lazy or too ignorant or too unintelligent to govern their children intelligently, resort to the cruel method of beating their children.