Assault is legally defined as an “act that creates an apprehension in another of an imminent, harmful or offensive contact. It consists of a threat of harm accompanied by an apparent, present ability to carry out the threat.
According to the “Report on Physical Punishment in the United States: What Research Tells Us About Its Effects on Children,” done by Phoenix Children’s Hospital in 2008, about 29 percent of Americans are opposed to parents using physical punishment; 71 percent approve.
It’s a perplexing statistic. Shirley Pearson of Mattapoisett is the vice president of Family Nonviolence Inc., of Fairhaven. She’s a retired school psychologist who points out that corporal punishment is allowed in the schools in 26 of the United States. It’s allowed in homes in all 50 states.
It defies logic: Why is a child who strikes another child punished by blows from an adult?
We are persuaded by the arguments of Family Nonviolence Inc. that say the preferred course is to teach children to solve problems without violence, teach high school students that parenting can work without corporal punishment and teach parents that — regardless of how they were raised — they can discipline their children with methods other than spanking.
We are convinced that children raised this way will be more likely to be peacemakers in a world that assaults and batters us all far too much.