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My Personal Book Reviews

If you have a book you’d like me to review please do contact me via the email listed on the Contact Page.  I’d love to hear from you.

Click on above images to go to Stacey Patton Twitter Feed and Spare The Kids Website. (WARNING: Graphic Images)

I was fortunate and it was an honor to be selected to review the book Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America by Dr. Stacey Patton. This book intrigued me, as I am a fan of African American progression, and do not spank my child for the simple fact it is against the law, as from my personal perspective it should be. It is common sense that assault on anyone is still assault, -even in the name of what some might call love; and to do it to our children is most monstrous. This book just resonated the fact with a surplus of reasons as to why children, especially black children, should not be physically disciplined.

At the heart of the matter the way I see it, physical punishment simply isn’t needed.  There are plenty of work-a-rounds, and when you honestly and keenly look at all the reasons you do it, intrinsically, it’s because behavior is learned.  It was done to you, so you adopted the view point that it was okay, without ever thinking for yourself that it’s wrong.  The fact that black parents say the world is hard on our children and if whipping my kids keeps them out of jail that they will continue to do it, sounds like excuses, especially when statistics reveal those who end up in prison more often than not experienced physical punishment, and by and by it seems the black or African-American form of physical punishment borders on child abuse more often than not when instruments or tools other than one’s hands or a belt are utilized and when injuries reside.

Spare the Kids was much needed for the African-American community and I 100% support it, and recommend every African-American parent read it, because I’d be shocked if it doesn’t change or at least challenge your mind, your ideas and beliefs –even on a subconscious level.  If you are a spank-free African-American home, I recommend you read it to reinforce your belief system.  You can’t read this book from cover to cover and not be moved by it.  It is life changing, -not just for your account, but will be so for your children, -our children, -black, African-American children, if you simply apply it.

Spare the Kids was difficult to read no doubt, to forge through our history with slavery, the history of our oppressors, to hear the painful and appalling accounts of adults who told their stories and experiences as children with being whipped, abused, -not only by their parents but by teachers as well.  This book examines physical punishment from all facets: the church, black comedians, social and news media, the educational system, and the political system, to name a few.  It provides statistics and data, studies and reviews that are remarkably, mind boggling and chilling, to say the least.

There was plenty in this book that I didn’t agree with that I found offensive and this book will undoubtedly challenge you.  You may think, as even the author admits, she isn’t a parent, but a victim and survivor of abuse, and an adoptee, so how can she relate to me as a parent who utilizes spanking, or perhaps you feel you have to defend your own parents who spanked you.  I don’t feel abused in any way by my parents and in adulthood, I actually thanked my dad for all the spankings he gave me, to let him know I understand the hardships he faced raising me and that I don’t hold any sense of anger or animosity towards him and that I am inevitably who I am in part due to his raising me.  I know this makes me seem like a hypocrite, but my parents gave me the “I love you and this hurts me to do” spiel before-hand.  Frankly it didn’t hurt, we usually held out our hands and got the strap, it was more of the fear of getting spanked that frightened me, but the strappings left me with little pain, I didn’t shed a tear.  I know that most black children don’t experience this form of punishment however, they experience their parent’s wrath, abuse, scarring, welts, -by any means available, be it an extension cord, shoe, etc.  This is abuse from my perspective.  I was adopted myself, but never experienced abuse, not even in my foster home.

I still feel physical punishment isn’t necessary.  It’s simply not something you have to do to discipline your kids.  My daughter suffers from depression and with that comes a plethora of situations that would put most parents in the deep end, not knowing what to do or how to handle things, things I hate to say most parents, even my parents would have spanked me for, but I don’t do it with her, and won’t do it with her, for not only her sanity but my sanity as well.  It’s like adding more pain on top of pain.  It would only exasperate things, namely her health and well-being.  We use other methods, -taking away what she deems luxuries, not being able to go to certain places she idolizes, grounding for an insurmountable amount of time, -these things work.  We have conversations.  Things I’d never say to my mother about my dealings, I allow her to tell me, so we can be close and so I can continue to guide her and sway her away from things I’d deem inappropriate.  It’s not impossible to live a physical punishment free lifestyle.  I urge you to read this book and give it a try.

One of the most significant concepts conveyed in this book that I fully embrace is the idea that because our children live in an un-ideal world filled with racism across the board from education, child-care, the workforce to the prison system, our homes should be a safe haven, a place of peace.  Why should they have to constantly be beat down in life and then again at home, -a place that should be a safe refuge.  What message do we truly send to their person, if the ones who should love and protect them –don’t.  We don’t have to do it with violence.  Violence is for those without the propensity to understand reason, or anything but the fist, -is that your child, -is that our children?  If we don’t love our children, why would you expect the world to?  If we don’t love our children, how do you expect them to love themselves?  As behavior is learned, it’s time we change our behaviors, to give our children any hope of a future immersed in love for self, -for our preservation, opposed to violence.

Some quotes to think about from Spare the Kids include:

“(Parents) say they need to keep our kids alive. But there’s a relationship between what black parents do to their kids at home and what’s going on in the streets.” ~Reverend Leslie Callahan.

“…Changing behavior and culture is hard.” ~ Reverend Lacette Cross

“By slavery’s end, the practice of severe physical discipline was already deeply embedded in black culture.” (Patton, p.64)

“…It’s difficult to even imagine rearing children without spanking until we reject and exercise a white supremacist violence veiled in Christian doctrine out of our culture.” (Patton, p.57)

“One of the saddest untold stories in American history is the ways that its victims of racial oppression and violence have hurt the bodies of their own children in an effort to protect them from a hostile society.” (Patton, p. 31)

“In many West African societies, infant mortality was high.  Because parents feared losing their children to early death, they were highly valued as sacred.” (Patton, p.41)

“The cold, hard truth is that we live in a country where black children don’t get to be children. They face a culture that questions their intellectual abilities and slanders their humanity at every turn, and a criminal justice system that subjects them to adult penalties, even for first-time offenses.” (Patton, p.2)

“…We don’t have to be prisoners of our history.” (Patton, p.215)

“We don’t respect childhood in this country.” ~Evelyn Alvarez (Patton, p.214)

“What seems small to the person doing the spanking has a ripple effect that changes the trajectory of a child’s life.” ~Monifa Colon (Patton, p.212)

“It’s not even a fair fight to hit a child…” ~Monifa Colon (Patton, p.211)

“…Beating our kids won’t protect them from a racist criminal justice system. So what do we have to gain by…beating them?” (Patton, p.191)

“Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit a violent crime, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.” (Patton, p.184)

“Parents don’t understand the connections between structural racism, the legacies of slavery, and their own behavior.” ~Alvin Poussaint, Harvard psychiatrist (Patton, p.171)

“Spare the rod is a misinterpretation of scripture.” ~Dr. Kimberly Joy Chandler  (Patton, p.73)

“Victims of racist oppression create their own victims.” (Patton, p.81)

“When a mother beats her son it damages his perception of a woman’s worth and can cause him to become unsympathetic to a woman’s needs.” (Patton, p.81)

“The 8 years I spent in your home were part of an otherworldly spiritual agreement made between us long before we came to Earth.  You did not kill me.” ~Stacey Patton

These quotes are just a tip of the iceberg.  Spare the Kids no doubt gets more complex and dives into the heart of many issues African-Americans don’t want to face or own up to, but if we are ever to begin to progress as a people –functionally, this topic, this matter, this subject must be fully examined and rectified.  In just ten chapters outlined below, in just 238 pages, you should begin the work of examining all you believe as a parent and as an African-American, you owe it to your children, to yourself and to your people, culture or community.  It’s time for change.

   Chapters                              Contents

1                              A Family Conversation

2                              Reflections on the Adrian Peterson & Baltimore Mom Controversies

3                              The Historical Roots of Whupping Children in Black Communities

4                              Black Clergy on What Sparing the Rod Really Means

5                              How Black Boys Who Are Whupped by Their Mothers Grow

Up To Mistreat Other Black Women

6                              The Campaign to End Paddling in Southern Schools

7                              Why Black Comedians Joke About Whuppings

8                              How Hitting Your Daughter Can Trigger Early Puberty

9                              The Parent-to-Prison Pipeline

10                           Testimonies of Black Parents Who Stopped Hitting or Never Whupped

 

Author, Dr. Stacey Patton is an adoptee, child abuse survivor and former foster youth turned award winning journalist, child advocate and assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Morgan State University; and author of That Mean Old Yesterday.  Be sure to check out www.sparethekids.com, a web portal that offers education on child development issues and positive disciplinary techniques.

I challenge all African-American parents and future parents to read this book, even if you are a product of abuse without children I’d encourage you to read this book, to possibly gain a deeper understanding of where the violence was rooted to be able to forgive the abuse and move on with your life.  The bottom line is two wrongs don’t make a right.  The punishment should fit the crime, not be a crime or criminal act, of assault and abuse.  It’s time you utilize your own intelligence and think outside of the box.  Behaviors can be un-learned or changed; can the emotional scarification and physical injuries rendered upon the bodies and minds of your children by your hands, be altered so easily, or better yet –forgiven or forgotten?

When you look at the bigger picture, the structure of society and where we fall in it as a people –or a culture, -a society that seeks to obliterate our existence from the face of the Earth –and even the traces of our rich and prominent history, -even the memory of us; -a society that seeks to imprison innocent black people every day, murder our children, -why give them another reason?  Black families were separated on the auction block during slavery, -why separate our children from and by our own hands by rendering the same abuse that was dealt to us by our parents’ hand, who had the same abuse rendered them by their parents’ hand, who had the same abuse rendered by the slave masters’ hand?  Why give them another reason, to take our children from our grasp, -whether they end up in foster care or the penitentiary, due to something we can prevent and change?

Beating children isn’t protecting them, only in the sense you’d suspect they would get used to the pain of physical discipline and become resilient and stronger than the pain this society will inflict upon them -or even numb, which is asinine in the sense it’s only perpetuating the problem.  We need to change or alter the society that beats our children, -and not destroy our children with disciplinary violence by getting them used to societies’ infliction of pain by our hands.  We need to teach them how to overcome societies’ ills, how to reign, how to progress -to ensure our survival as a people –to stop the murder, to stop the incarceration, because for black lives to matter to society, they have to matter to us first and foremost, and it needs to start with our children, because they are our future as a people!

 

Thank you, Dr. Patton for your amazing, life-altering book: Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America.   I urge you to get your copy today, simply click the book image.

Questions Posed in Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America by Dr. Stacey Patton under Reader’s Guide

  • Do children have any right to their own physical bodies? If so, at what age?  And if not, to whom and in what spaces do they relinquish these rights?

I think this is a new ideal that we have to slowly but surely embrace.  If girls can obtain birth control without parental consent or parental knowledge, and in some cases an abortion, this question has an obvious answer.  There is a gray area here in this sense though, because parents are still responsible for children until the age of 18.  Some children do not have the capacity to keep or maintain their bodies in a healthy, natural state or condition, and abuse their bodies because they do not have the capacity to understand the consequences of their actions overall, -how could they?  They only see what’s in front of them and don’t necessarily look at things long term.  Children should undoubtedly have the right to be clear of pain and abuse, beating, rape, etc.  I can understand an abortion or birth control without parental knowledge if the person they are repeatedly raped by is their parent, but for the parents trying to be good parents, some of the rights children have are a slap in the face and alienate our rights to take proper care of our kids as parents.  There needs to be a balancing act here.

  • Spare the Kids centralizes the child as a victim of physical punishment inflicted by parents, guardians, and trusted caretakers. How does “centralizing the child” fit with your own ideas about the role of children in society? Are they to be seen and not heard?

I disagree that children should be “seen and not heard”.  It’s absurd to say the least.  Children are a blessing and should be treated as such.  They didn’t ask to be here.  There’s the idea of your children carrying on your family legacy, and family name, -giving you the ability to live on –after you die; blossoming from the foundation you’ve given them to be greater than you.  Children aren’t here to serve you, to take care of you when you die, -no one owes you anything in this world.  Children are a gift –to let you know the world should go on, and even better than before.  For those who can’t “centralize the child” so to speak, perhaps finding a better method of birth control would be the better alternative.

  • The history of hitting black children links directly to American slavery and the practice of overseers beating slaves with a whip to get them to submit and obey orders. The whip evolved to the belt and later to household items like shoes, purse straps, hangers, and kitchen utensils. How does the origin story affect your outlook, if at all?

Before belts, -existed tree branches (the long thin ones that you could hear clearly while waving quickly in the wind).  I was told to retrieve a good one from my favorite Grandmother when I was younger, luckily for me, I only got a warning; but having to choose the tree branch and then having to come to terms with what was about to happen was enough for me to never attempt the infraction again.

The origin story makes sense, as I stated before, behavior is learned.  What’s most shocking is, that despite all the pain, -not just physical and emotional, despite the scarification that lasted a life time, that a former slave would carry on the tradition against their own kin.  I think it speaks to our self-hatred as a people.  It’s important now, that we can define and understand where and why some traditions we carry on and belief systems we have, come from, -be it disciplining our kids, religion, etc. so we can do away with it or progress, if it no longer serves us as a people.

  • Spare the Kids includes a lot of scientific research on the long term, negative effects of whuppings on children (i.e. early puberty, low IQ, aggressive behavior and delinquency, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity, diabetes, and even cancer). How does this information influence your opinion and approach to child-rearing? Will the science ever outweigh the cultural tradition?

I think it’s extremely important to build up your child mentally, emotionally, physically, -devoutly in a world that seeks to break them down at every level.  Thus there should be no room for violence against one’s child, -it doesn’t build them up.  I can only hope that one day the science will outweigh what I hope isn’t a cultural tradition, but as people are stuck in their ways, and as people are sheep (followers), maybe we will have to fall before we rise; -it’s sad that experience has to be the teacher in so many cases.  That is why I’d encourage other African-Americans –parents or not, to read Spare the Kids to reset their minds or change their way of thinking.  For too long we’ve had groupthink.

  • If you were whupped as a child, what were your thoughts about your own experience while you read this book?

I’ll be honest in saying, I felt I had to defend my parents, because no matter what, even abused children, more often than not, will always love and honor their parents if they had some form of a good relationship with them.  My parents however did not brutalize us.  Ours was a household filled with love.  Once we reached pre-teen age, around 10, 11 and 12 the spankings, strappings stopped and we would be grounded or have privileges taken away.  Eventually I suppose you get too old for physical discipline, or maybe your parents get too old for the energy they’d have to exert to do it. (LOL)  Just kidding, it’s not a laughing matter, in the sense some black children are down-right abused –by definition, despite parents believing they are simply spanking them or physically disciplining them.

There isn’t exactly a standard out there to replicate or model, other than what was done to them, so they figure if I survived shoes thrown, extension cords, tree branches, belts, etc. –so can my child.  That’s why it’s crucial to self-examine and be honest with yourself, despite how much you love your parents, that you were actually an abused child.  The hard to accept truth for most is that any infliction of pain, -by any means –hand or tool, despite who is doing it, -is physical assault, is abuse.  F!@#, the level of physical force you received and by what means.  Hitting is hitting.  I can’t even totally accept it.  I still don’t and never will consider myself an abused child, but I received spankings by hands, a belt and a strap.

I think that’s what most parents contend with, as they want to differentiate spankings from beatings, but can we be honest for just one minute and admit –it doesn’t matter what level you think it’s okay to hit someone on –you just shouldn’t, especially your child, when you always have other options, -hitting –being the easiest, -because it doesn’t involve the utilization of the mind, it doesn’t require any brain-work –only physical force.  I say, think it through, let the punishment fit the misconduct.

I mentioned above in a question I answered earlier about my Grandmother letting me off with a warning, but she punished me psychologically.  Having to choose a switch from a tree –what goes through your mind?  I was a ball of nerves, scared of the pain and the act my Grandma would inflict.  That in and of itself, changed my whole mindset.  I never forgot that moment and never will forget.  I stabbed my cousin Vel in the hand with a pencil for picking on me. Just hearing my crime would make most say, “Yeah, you deserved a beating,” even I can admit that, but what I want you to see is that I still remember that moment and it’s significant to me, -and I wasn’t whipped, my Grandma had a conversation with me.  Learning can take place without physical discipline.

Had I gotten whipped by the tree switch, -who knows –maybe it would have made a bigger impression, -maybe my Grandma wouldn’t have been my favorite Grandma after that moment –who knows?  But what I do know is that I never stabbed my cousin or anyone else with a pencil again.  I could have given him lead-poisoning; he could have had to have gone to the hospital, and so on.  It was a heinous act, I should have had a heinous punishment by most people’s standards, but if I did, would that moment stick with me forever –or would  I have gotten the message that I should just be prepared to have my violence met with violence?

  • What tactics might be a good alternative to physical punishment?

Grounding, taking away privileges, restricting friend visitation and activities your child enjoys.  I’d also say being creative enough to come up with punishments that fit the misconduct. It’s about teaching a lesson as well, who likes lectures?  We used to have the dreaded 1 to 2 hour long “Family Meetings” in our household.  Conversations about issues are important to have, to explain why one’s actions were wrong, or what the consequences could have been.  What does physical punishment teach, what lessons can be had from hitting?

Maybe even giving your child a real world scenario for punishment; for example how many criminals or juveniles are given community service?  Maybe take them to the food bank or some volunteer program where they must donate so many hours of their time.  Of course they may find it enjoyable and rewarding, and you may not want them to look upon volunteer work as punishment, but at least it can give them another option for their time opposed to acting up or doing something they have no business doing, so it’d be about changing or reforming the behavior opposed to punishing, which is really most beneficial when it comes to discipline –for parents and child: reformation and correction opposed to punishment.  Think outside the box.

  • Think about the most effective discipline you received from your parent as a child and the most effective discipline you’ve administered as a parent. How do they compare?  What accounts for the differences, if any?

I’d say they compare well.  I hated having restricted phone access and not being able to hang out at the mall or the movies with my best friend.  I utilize the same kind of privilege restrictions with my daughter.  It has been effective thus far.

  • In your estimation, is any type of physical discipline of a child ever appropriate? Is it okay to remove a child from his or her home because he or she was hit?

Besides “appropriate”, I’d also use the words “ideal”, “necessary”, “needed”, and “moral”, and my answer would always be NO.  Removal of children from a home due to hitting should be investigated on a case by case basis from my eye-view.  I hate to refer back to levels of physical violence, but that concept here, is very significant. It’s also based on state, as to whether any hitting of a child is condoned or lawful.  No parent is perfect.  What’s most important is the parent’s intent in hitting the child, as well as if they can be rehabilitated, -if their behavior can stop, are there bruises present, what did the parent hit the child with, and why?  There are so many variables to consider before constructing an answer to a general or vague question. The ultimate driver here is the safety of the child.  I hate to say, “It depends,” -but it does.

  • The overwhelming majority of Americans in prison received whuppings as children. How does that connect to the cultural mythology that whupping kids at home keeps them out of trouble?

Given the above mentioned statistic, that:

“Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit a violent crime, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.” (Patton, p.184)

I’d say the myth is indeed a myth.  It makes sense.  If behavior is learned we’re merely teaching children violence, fear, “you ain’t $!@#”, “I don’t respect you,” and the list goes on with physical discipline.  But please note, it’s not just abuse, -it’s NEGLECT as well, -those who refuse to discipline their child whatsoever, those who turn the other cheek, believing their child could do no wrong, those who simply don’t care or checked out entirely of their child’s life.  There are two culprits here as mentioned in the statistic above.

But when it comes to prison and “whuppings”, it’s a bit ineffective to make a comparison between the two topics when America or the powers that be, have made a business out of sending black people to prison, regardless of an abusive childhood, so much in fact, whupping children is ineffective in keeping them out of prison, because society aims to place them there anyway.

“African Americans are only 13% of the American population but a majority of innocent

defendants wrongfully convicted of crimes and later exonerated…constitute 47% of

the 1,900 exonerations listed in the National Registry of Exonerations (as of October

2016).” (Gross, p.2)

“62% of the Harris County Texas drug-crime guilty plea exonerees were African-American in a county with 20% black residents.” (Gross, p.3)

Gross, Samuel R. et al. National Registry of Exonerations. (2017). RACE AND WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES. Retrieved May 10, 2017 from https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Documents/Race_and_Wrongful_Convictions.pdf

There’s a major disparity in our numbers and those incarcerated, so much in fact, it’s blatantly obvious that there is a large percentage of African-Americans that are innocent and imprisoned, -due to racism, making whuppings micro-sized in comparison, to being able to prevent “children getting into trouble” entirely.  I encourage you to read the above cited article so you will know how much so or to what degree -completely. Click on the below graphic to view the report.

That said, “whupping” is just a physical manifestation of our self-hatred from my perspective, and nothing more than an excuse.  It protects no one, and teaches nothing but pain. Get your copy today!

This was my first book review ever and was quite enjoyable.  If you have a book you’d like me to personally review, feel free to contact me.  Thanks.