by Barbara Rogers
What is an innocent human life? When and why do people speak up for innocent human beings? Dr. James Dobson, founder of the conservative evangelical group Focus on the Family, has said that "the judges who would not stop the removal of Ms. Schiavo's feeding tube were guilty not only of judicial malfeasance—but of the cold-blooded, cold-hearted extermination of an innocent human life.”
Yet, Dobson does not speak up for innocent children or advocate treating them with careful, protective respect. He does not apply the golden rule towards children. Being merciful has no validity for children’s lives if parents follow Dobson’s monstrous parenting advice and beliefs. Where did he learn them? “I learned very early that if I was going to launch a flippant attack on her (Dobson’s mother), I had better be standing at least twelve feet away. This distance was necessary to avoid an instantaneous response—usually aimed at my backside.” His mother once whipped him with a girdle that had “a multitude of straps and buckles.” “Believe it or not, it made me feel loved.”
A tortured prisoner knows that whipping is not love. Adults know that being physically attacked by their spouse is not love. Dobson does not know what it means to protect and love a child. He does not question his beliefs about love. He chooses not to realize what kind of rage and hatred child abuse leaves behind in the child. In order to silence and deny these feelings against his abuser, his own mother, he not only continues the abuse against his own children but recommends it to others. Thus he has moved his hatred away from his mother and takes it out on innocent human beings—children. Thus he continues to live and preach the lies about love he grew up with.
Dobson could never sell his destructive advice if he claimed that brutal attacks against adults are “love”. But children have no lobby, no laws that protect their physical integrity and their human rights. Dobson spreads the lie that if corporal punishment is prohibited by law, “child abuse will increase.” But this is not true—countries like Sweden that ban corporal punishment have seen a decrease in child abuse, as well as in youth crime, youth involvement in drugs, and youth suicide.
Raising a child is a power-battle for Dobson, and defiance is his red flag. To win this battle, cruel and inhuman behavior is permissible against vulnerable, defenseless children. He advises parents to not pick up crying infants right away; to start whipping at the age of 15-18 months; and that “there is no magical time at the end of childhood when spanking becomes ineffective.” If a child cries more than a few minutes after being spanked, he recommends to hit them more. Dobson’s wife whipped their 15 months old daughter for going onto the patio in the rain. (Excerpts can be found at stoptherod.net/dobson.html, and information about the dangerous consequences of physical violence towards children at http://www.nospank.net.)
Physical abuse teaches children, through adult role models and their behavior, that violence is an acceptable means to settle conflict if the executor has all the power and is a strong, powerful adult. It teaches them that having power means ‘I may use violence’—and that being powerless means ‘I may be attacked at any time, without mercy and dignity, without a witness on my side, without protection and help.’
Corporal punishment can cause irreversible harm to an innocent, tiny human body or brain, which Dobson and others who recommend corporal punishment fail to inform about. It even kills children. During the year 2004 alone, 204 children in Texas were killed by those usually living under the same roof with them. Instead of helping to protect innocent children, Dobson promotes teaching the behavioral language of violence, which should be considered unacceptable for all human beings, but above all for the most vulnerable and weakest human beings, our children.
What this kind of "upbringing", based on such horrible advice, by completely inconceivable, unconscionable parenting, can lead to is shown by the books of Jonathan Pincus, “Base Instincts”, Dorothy Lewis “Guilty by Reason of Insanity,” Alice Miller "For Your Own Good," and "Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse."
How can anyone in the 20th century ignore the immense vulnerability of the growing human brain at the beginning of life? Dobson’s advice reads like a manual on how to practice inhumanity and cold-hearted, cold-blooded, brutal disregard for the feelings, needs, and rights of an innocent, growing, and developing human creature. One wonders, if Dr. Dobson was raising Jesus, how he would treat him. Would he begin discipline from the very first day? Would he use physical punishment? How would any parent act if he truly thought he was raising the Son of God?
© Barbara Rogers, April 2005
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Screams from Childhood