Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Is it discipline or abuse? I say it's stupidity

Reading my morning news as usual, I came across a story that left me somewhat speechless. I wasn’t speechless because I had no opinion about the story. I was speechless because I had so many things to say about it I couldn’t figure out where to start!

Now that I’ve settled down a little bit, I guess I’ll start with the details of the story…

It was about a 9 year old boy who’s father had charges of child abuse filed against him for shooting the 9 year old in the butt with a BB gun. The man faces 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The boy wrote an essay about the incident, the teacher turned it in to the police and the man was arrested. He was released on bond but was given the instructions to not threaten or engage in any acts of violence against his son and not to engage in physical discipline of any child. In the story the father was quoted as saying “I knew right away it was a stupid thing I did.” He shot the boy in the butt when he wouldn’t move away from the front of the TV.

Here’s what I thought:

1. We’re talking about a 9 year old. They embellish things. They make things way more exciting than they really were. If you’ve ever read a 9 year olds “How I spent my summer” essay then you know what I’m talking about. It’s incredibly cool and quite entertaining 10 years later when you read it but I don’t think you should take each word as gospel. Some things may not be the actual way it happened.

2. We’re talking about a 9 year old. It was an incredibly stupid thing that this father did. A 9 year olds reflexes and/or thought processes are not developed enough to decide in a split second if they need to move or not and then move. I’ve seen 9 year olds stand there and watch as something came hurtling through the air and smacked into their face/arm/stomach.

3. Are there no investigations done? Do the police just come into your home and arrest you because your 9 year old said you did something? I know the man admitted that he did it and apparently there was a BB in a butt, but it doesn’t seem like it was done in an overly hateful way. I don’t think he wanted to injure his child. Just make him move. I’ll repeat that what he did was an incredibly stupid thing. But I can see it happening. You’re watching TV, the kid won’t move, you’re favorite whatever is on and it’s been a long day… you’re irritated. He shouldn’t have taken his irritation out on his kid but I can see it happening.

4. 6 years in prison and a $10,000 fine?!? Ok, what he did just turned into a really, really, incredibly stupid thing. Seriously. That seems a little excessive for a BB in the butt. Especially when I can go online and see all the child molesters that live in my neighborhood. I just feel so much better now that this BB shooter will be locked up. Idiots.

5. He was ordered not to engage in any acts of violence against his son. I didn’t realize popping off a BB gun was an act of violence. At one point in my life I lived with acts of violence. I would happily trade those days for an irritated “You’re blocking the TV! Move!” POP! But then I think, yeah, that wasn’t cool. It WOULD hurt. (It still could have been worse.)

6. I started to wonder who would keep a BB gun within reach of their couch but then I remembered some friends of mine that did have guns (BB and otherwise) sitting in the corner of the living room or propped up by a chair. They weren’t gangsters or anything *lol* they were country folk. Nuff said.

7. He was ordered not to engage in physical discipline of any child. What he did was not discipline. He let his irritation control his brain and his brain acted badly. It was not his shining moment.

Things have really changed since I was a kid. I can remember my father telling me to go in his closet and choose the belt that I wanted him to use to whip me. You had to choose well. If you brought a tiny one out he’d go get a bigger one and you’d get extra licks. If you were bold and brought the big one to start out you got extra licks for being a smartass. It was best to just stay towards the middle and hope you chose right. That was the way it was and you behaved correctly to avoid those long walks to the closet thinking about how bad your butt was going to hurt when it was over and hoping that maybe this time you wouldn’t get more than 5 swats. That was our discipline: training through pain aversion.

I just don’t think what the father did was so bad. I can definitely think of worse. I guess my wrapped up opinion is the thought that keeps drifting into my head… It was an incredibly stupid thing to do.

I'd like to add a note here. I added this to my comments but sometimes you may not read the comments so I wanted to say it here too. I in no way thought it was ok for the man to shoot his son. On my #3 thought I was only saying I could understand how the man could react the way he did. I would never shoot my child with anything (except maybe a rubberband and that would be playing not anger) and he was definitely wrong for doing that!


Smilingsal said...

Oh Kathy, this will be my first disagreeing comment. Brace yourself. I was spanked too--with a belt, a stick, a hairbrush, etc. I spanked my children and have even spanked my grandchildren, but with my open palm on their rear ends.

We part ways when you say (#3) that you understand a child getting shot by a parent with a BB gun. NO. There is no way I can understand that. That IS abuse and it should be punished.

You say it wasn't hateful. Our children look to us for love. If our tempers get the best of us, we should demonstrate CONTROL and leave the room, not shoot them. We are supposed to "train up a child in the way he should grow." By this, we demonstrate control of temper.

Think it over.

♥ Kathy said...

Hi Sally :)

Well I do agree it was wrong for him to do that. And I would never shoot any type of gun at my children. I think it wasn't a smart idea and he should not have done it. My point on #3 was I can see how it would happen and I have definitely seen much worse than that. He was wrong period. He should NOT have done that. I don't think it was 'normal' behavior but I can see how it could happen. I understand the 'I just worked 65 hours this week, I'm tired, I want you to move' feeling and can see how he would overreact. He did it in the wrong way. I don't think he thought "I want to hurt my child"..I don't think he thought at all. So I agree with you too :) Thanks for stopping by! ♥

artist victoria o'neill said...

Hello there, this story really made me laugh for some reason.....but it really is awful when you think about it....

Sweetie said...

Hi Kathy - I'm not certain about this. I worked for Children & Youth for several years and know that there had to be complete documentation and proof before a child was taken from his/her parents or a parent was arrested. I wonder if there was more than one isolated incident. Also, my husband taught our grandchildren that a BB gun is a weapon and should be treated with respect - the same as a rifle.

Neen said...

After posting my "bad dog" story on my Blog this morning I was thinking what a wonderful thing it is that our brains give us an "impulse control". The horrible, fleeting thought of tying my dog to a tree and shooting her, would never happen...because though the thought may go through my mind during a stressful brain does not act upon it's every impulse.
Ya' don't shoot yer kid! *L*

Coco said...

I agree that it was wrong but six years in prison seems extreme. Child molesters get less time. My daughter was shot many times by a neighbor kid with a bb gun. Guess what the police did...Nothing. I later found out his mother was abused all the time by her boyfriend. I understood why he was the way he was and felt sorry for him. But didn't appreciate the violence against my daughter.

morrow said...

I think I might say that 6 yrs was a little excessive, especially as you said that child molesters seem to never stay in that long - if they get in at all.

But I had a bb gun shot at my bedroom window when I was little and it cracked the glass. So I am thinking that could have really hurt. Ouch.

Also, I think I would have more sympathy if the man had said more that it was a really unkind thing for him to have done, and not say : it was a really stupid thing to have done.

I do though totally understand the inclination to shoot a BB gun at your child!

But you really can not act on such inclinations.

And in general, an action like that does not accomplish much.

In a way, I liked the fact that the man got punished, often abusers get off way too easily. And children are not taken seriously enough.

And I do think shooting a bb gun is a form of abuse - maybe the man is not a chronic offender but he did act abusive in that incident.

However, I would hold the 9 yr old some what accountable too if he really was acting obnoxious.

but not shoot him!

Cascia said...

This is the first time I visited you and I have to agree with the other commenters. A BB gun is still a weapon and should not be used on any humans especially children. I believe that the father deserved the sentence that he got. I'm sure that the authorities had more proof than just the little boy's essay. That is a sad story, though.

♥ Kathy said...

Well I appreciate you visiting Cascia. I'm not trying to say a BB gun is NOT a weapon. It most definitely IS. The only thing I said different than most of the people leaving comments is that I can see how it happened. Not that I agree with it or condone it in any way. I do think 6 years is an excessive amount of time for one incident. People who have done much worse don't serve nearly as much time, if any time at all. I agree he should be punished. I just think the punishment should fit the crime: parenting classes, maybe a gun safety class, a fine for sure, some time served but 6 years? It just seems like too long.

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