Listeners Weigh In On Parents Using Physical Discipline Tell Me More editor Amita Parashar Kelly shares feedback to last week's parenting panel on physical discipline.

Listeners Weigh In On Parents Using Physical Discipline

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Now we'd like to turn to Backtalk. That's where we hear from you about to the week's stories. And it happens that we got a very spirited response to last week's parenting conversation about physical discipline. Editor Amita Parashar Kelly joins us now to review some of those comments. Welcome back, Amita.


MARTIN: So we spoke last week about a video that's gone viral that showed a man beating a girl, who's believed to be his 13-year-old daughter, to punish her for being away from home for three days. And that sparked a big debate online over whether physical discipline is OK.

KELLY: Right. And while all of our roundtable guests announced what they saw in the video, we had an interesting discussion about that broader issue. Here's dad Owen Kibenge, explaining why he sometimes uses physical discipline.

OWEN KIBENGE: It's the highest that I have amongst my several options for punishing a child. In a situation where I tell you to do something and you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and I punish you, and that doesn't work, I'm certainly going to employ the cane. And in this case, for me, I do not employ the cane as it was employed on me. I am going to use a slipper or a flip-flop because that's what I use, and I've used that on my son.

MARTIN: So what did the listeners have to say about this?

KELLY: Well, some of them said we shouldn't be giving a platform to parents who punish their children in this way. Ty Akadiri(ph), in Virginia, wrote in, quote, "I felt outraged to hear at least 2 out of 3 guests advocating for abuse of children in the form of what they termed physical discipline." Other listeners, including Molly Robert (ph) of Washington, D.C., felt we missed an opportunity to focus on research about the harmful effects of physically disciplining children. Did you want to say anything about that?

MARTIN: Well, I did want to say a couple of things. First, I want to mention that psychologist Isaura Gonzalez (ph) was part of the roundtable, and she did discuss why most psychologists discourage physical discipline. And I don't expect listeners to have an encyclopedic knowledge of all of our stories. Back in 2009, we actually focused on the international research on this point. You know, Sweden, you might remember, has actually banned physical discipline for some 30 years now. But part of the reason we specifically focused on these guests and their perspective is that most of the comments on that video were people who supported what they saw. And we thought it was important to kind of dig into that perspective. So is there anything else?

KELLY: Yeah, one last comment. Some people were glad you acknowledged that even watching the video was upsetting to you. Joseph Polman(ph), in New York< wrote, quote,"It was vital to name the underlying emotional charge here. After the whole sequence, I stepped out of the car sensing I had just been privy to a moment of rare journalistic and human integrity.

MARTIN: Well, thank you, Mr. Polman, and thanks to all who wrote in. It was upsetting. And thank you, Amita.

KELLY: You're welcome, Michel.

MARTIN: Amita Parashar Kelly is an editor here at TELL ME MORE. And remember, if you want to tell us more, you can always check us out on Facebook or find us on Twitter. We are @TellMeMoreNPR. And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin, and you've been listening to TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

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