He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes. These words provided generations of American Christians with the justification for physically disciplining their children, in ways that range from spankings to brutal beatings. This learned and deeply disturbing work of history examines both the religious roots of corporal punishment in America and its consequences -- in the minds of children, in adults, and in our national tendencies toward authoritarian and apocalyptic thinking. Drawing on sources as old as Cotton Mather and as current as today's headlines, Spare the Child is one of those rare works of scholarship that have the power to change our lives.
Table of Contents
PART I. The Problem
PART II. Experiences
Moral Suasion and Nonviolence Before Conscious Memory Begins Memories of Pain and Punishments Disciplined Death
PART III. Rationales
Religious Rationales Biblical Roots Eternal Punishment Breaking Wills Methodologies of Punishment The Last Resort
PART IV. Consequences Anxiety and Fear Anger and Hate Empathy and Apathy Melancholy and Depression Obsessiveness and Rigidity Ambivalence: Protect and Destroy Dissociation Paranoia Sadomasochism Domestic Violence Aggression and Delinquency Authoritarianism The Apocalyptic Impulse
PART V. Choices
"The great value of Spare the Child lies in its shock of awareness. The subject enters our minds and hearts in a new way, and we are forced to imagine a world in which the hitting of a child is against the laws of both man and God." -- Chicago Tribune
"The force of Greven's case serves to drive the reader to the book's conclusion....You cannot read [it] without reviewing your most fundamental attitudes about human behavior."
-- Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times
"A gift from an enlightened historian to every person. It provides us with crucial information ignored or silenced throughout the world. A step toward a more enlightened and peaceful society."