Kansas City parents react to Pope Francis’ spanking statements
It is an issue parents have dealt with for years. But now those in favor of it have a powerful supporter after Pope Francis made his stance clear being in favor of spanking.
“Spanking is a very simple form of punishment,” said Laticia Vargas.
Vargas knows about abuse. She says her biological father used to beat her, but she believes what Pope Francis is talking about is not abuse.
“I have been hit in the face by my previous male influence, and it does a lot damage. It is humiliating and it causes a lot of problems with my self-esteem,” she said.
That is why her new father figure, Larry Reyes, refuses to spank her, but he has spanked two of his other children and says it’s effective.
“When you teach a kid with a spanking, it is not the pain that the kid fears. it’s the humiliation or the ridicule of what comes after it,” Reyes said.
However, many pediatricians disagree. They see spanking as a less effective way to discipline kids.
Instead, they prefer parents discuss bad behavior, use positive reinforcement and use timeouts sparingly.
A 2012 study by Child Trends found most parents support a good, hard spanking for their kids.
However, at the Church of the Holy Cross in Overland Park feelings were mixed on the issue.
“I think it’s better if you can just talk to them about the consequences, and I think it is somewhat a little violent. So I’d rather not do that to my children,” parishioner Maryshia Moore said.
“I don’t think spanking is the correct way to use, but in certain occasions I think it’s OK,” Monica Ahern said.
Members of Pope Francis’ sex abuse commission have criticized his remarks, saying there is no place for physical discipline and the commission would be making recommendations to him about protecting kids from corporal punishment.
The commission met with its full 17 members for the first time this week and announced progress Saturday on drafting policies for holding bishops accountable when they cover up for pedophile priests. Commission members also said they were organizing educational seminars for Vatican officials and newly minted bishops on protecting children from predators.
But they got an unexpected and urgent new task when Francis told his weekly general audience this week that it was OK for parents to spank their children if their dignity was respected. The remarks were criticized by Germany, where corporal punishment for children is illegal, and from leading advocacy groups.
Commission member Peter Saunders, who was sexually abused by a priest as a teen, said the committee would recommend that the pope revise his remarks.
“It might start off as a light tap, but actually the whole idea about hitting children is about inflicting pain,” he said. “That’s what it’s about, and there is no place in this day and age for having physical punishment, for inflicting pain, in terms of how you discipline your children.”
Another commission member, Dr. Krysten Winter-Green, a New Zealand native now working in the U.S. with abused young people, said any physical punishment of children by a parent or someone in a more powerful position was unacceptable.