Where are the Christians who oppose corporal punishment?
An invitation from PTAVE, December 2002
"To this day no single major religious leader has made ending intimate violence a top priority." Riane Eisler
With some regularity Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education receives correspondence from people who begin by identifying themselves as Christians and then go on to describe their sense of alienation and isolation within their churches or within their families because they refuse to spank their children. Consider two typical examples. Compounding the problem illustrated by the above examples, when one does an extensive review of reports in the media about arrests and prosecutions for child abuse by educators, more often than not the incidents involve operators or employees of religious schools. These incidents usually come to light only after a child is injured or killed. What goes on before that threshold is reached is anybodyís guess. Ironically and tragically, if a person deliberately sets out to abuse children -- and there are sick people who do precisely that -- the most likely path for such a person is to establish a private school with the word "Christian" in the name, locate the school in a remote rural setting where enforcement of child abuse prevention laws is lax or non-existent, staff the establishment with like-minded employees, and advertise for business. Surely the major faith-based organizations can't be unaware of whatís going on under the apparent auspices of the Christian religion. Surely they must recognize the connection between their tacit approval of "the rod of correction" and the horrendous child abuse rate in the United States. Nevertheless, they remain mute on the subject.

The dilemma that faces Christians who are committed to nonviolent methods of raising their children is this virtual absence within the established Christian community of a formal rejection of corporal punishment. If there is a church, a denomination or a sect that explicitly disapproves of hitting children, thus far theyíve kept their light under a bushel.

As a modest beginning, we would like to propose the development of an informal support network that could convene under the title "Christians for Nonviolent Parenting." We believe it would fill a need, and open a brighter future for children of the faithful. For more information, please contact Al Crowell at alois@mindspring.com and visit the section on this Web site, now under development, devoted entirely to this subject. Click on www.nospank.net/cnpindex.htm.

Jordan Riak, Executive Director, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education
December 2002

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