Sunday, September 08, 2013


There's a rather unfortunate blurb going around the internet aimed at people born after 1977. It's one of those rants each of us will at some point fall victim to -- either as audience or as the one spouting the "in my day ..." cliches. You know, "you kids don't know how good you have it!"

What makes this one disturbing is that point #3 is, "Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us. As a matter of fact, the parents of all my friends also had permission to kick our ass. Nowhere was safe!"

I was born way, way before 1977, and when I was a kid, CPS most definitely did care if our parents "beat us." I remember one summer, when I was about 8, my parents had taken me to the ER twice in two months. First I fell off a lifeguard's chair and hurt my ankle, then I had been jumping on my bed and missed -- don't ask -- and cracked my head on my dresser. It was during the second, especially bloody visit that a very nice nurse took me aside and asked me to tell her "what really happened" and kept assuring me my dad couldn't hear my answers. The ER staff was very ready to call CPS if my responses had aroused their suspicions. (Which, of course, they didn't. They were satisfied that the only reason why my dad was covered with my blood was that he tried to stop the bleeding on his own before taking me to the hospital.)

And it was most definitely not acceptable in our whitebread, Leave It to Beaver suburb for the parents of our friends to "beat us." There was definitely a greater community vibe than I sense now. It was very, "It takes a village to raise a child." My mother had at the very least a conversation, if not an ongoing relationship, with the moms of all my friends. The parents were like a network and they reinforced one another's rules of behavior. If I was naughty, I knew my mom would find out about it -- probably before I even got home. But I cannot imagine what it would be like to have the mother or father of a friend lay a hand on me. Under any circumstances.

It's not funny to joke about adults beating children. Kids and critters are the most vulnerable among us -- like corks on the water, they can't chart their own courses and go only where life takes them. It's the responsibility of all adults everywhere to exercise restraint with the children in their care, and to report abuse when they see it. We're supposed to protect children from the behavior this silly piece seems to celebrate.

Abuse is, unfortunately, cyclical. It's not corny, it's not silly, it's not overprotective to care that no one lays a hand on a child. If you grew up in a world where you were always at risk of having your "ass beaten" by an adult, where "nowhere was safe," then I'm sorry but your "good old days" weren't very good ... and I hope that you at least learned not to treat others as badly as you were.

Perhaps I'm completely humorless. But I hope I never get to the point where it amuses me that "nowhere is safe" from beatings.


  1. You know, I never thought of that part of that thing that way (did that make sense?) But I'm in total agreement. Child abuse isn't funny. Any kind of abuse isn't funny.

  2. I had the same reaction when I read that FB thingy.

  3. What a great post. I grew up in an abusive home and there wasn't a damn thing funny about it. Thank you.

  4. not beatings but spankings were ace[table. the school principals had paddles in their office

  5. I was born way, way before 1977 as well. But my mom did 'beat' us. Well, if that is what you want to call it. We were spanked. When we needed it. I thought at the time that she was beating me....but on hindsight I can see that I needed it when I needed it. And we all grew up! And I spanked my kids....and if the grandkids need it...I spank them too. I don't even think CPS existed back in my days....

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  7. Well, Paula and Jennifer, I don't know what to say except that my heart is sad for anyone who grew up believing that "nowhere was safe" from beatings, and if you read my post, you'd know that CPS did exist back in the mid 1960s. They have always done important work and I'm grateful for them.

    I will never, ever believe that anyone "needs" to be hit in anger. My mother used to tell us that she didn't spank us because she didn't like what it taught -- that "might makes right" and that the best way to handle a problem is physical.


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