Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sweden: A Picture Worth a Thousand Words


I received this article from The Scarlet Pimpernel, a friend of mine and close associate in the legal research business. It is printed in the Akron Law Review by Jason M. Fuller, and talks about the "No Spanking Laws" in Sweden, and some statistical and cultural analysis on its impacts on the youth and parents of Sweden.

Two years ago, a Swedish father shot at a group of teens who had been harrassing his family since 2005. One was killed. In America, Fuller writes, "the popular reaction would be, 'How can we prevent this from happening again?' In Sweden, however, youth violence and aggression has gotten so out of control that the reaction was, 'Shoot another [one].'"

Why is this the case? Fuller explains: "In 1979, Sweden started an international trend by becoming the first country to ban spanking . . . . Anti-spanking laws are proposed and passed with the hope that they will create a 'cultural spillover' of non-violence, and a society that does not need correction . . . . While such lawmaking may seem harmless, even commendable, the empirical data indicate that a spanking ban is a grave mistake. With spanking bans have come increased rates of child abuse, aggressive parenting, and youth violence. Indeed, criminal records suggest that children raised under a spanking ban are much more likely to be involved in crime than other children."

Fuller adds that "this makes sense. To function well in society, children need to learn that misbehavior has negative consequences . . . . On average, spanking seems to reduce aggression, defiance, and antisocial behavior better than mental punishments like timeout, reasoning, privilege removal, threats, verbal power assertion, ignoring, love withdrawal, or diverting."

Critical to this discussion is Fuller's definition of "spanking," which includes three important points: 1) a discipline method (this is not venting anger), 2) no physical injury (spanking differs from abuse), and 3) intent to modify behavior (it has a constructive element for personal growth).

Over the past several years, we have seen the advancement of anti-spanking laws, even though the evidence is clear that spanking bans are damaging to children and the society as a whole. Sweden today has a generation of parents who grew up without spanking (the ban has been in-place for 30 years as of this year), and cannot solve their problem. International law and agreements like the UNCRC support a spanking ban; will we let it devastate our country?

Protect our country, and visit to join the fight.

Watching the stars,

"I watch the stars, for they are mine to watch." - Glenstorm

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