Thursday, June 30, 2016

Stacey Patton

I recommend checking out the writing of Stacey Patton, a journalism professor at Morgan State University. She's a black woman, and writes about that reality among other topics, but her primary focus is on stopping corporal punishment of children in the black community. Raised by an adoptive mother who beat her, she speaks from experience, but has also been researching what neuroscience has to say about the effects of violence on brain development.

I first found out about her on Facebook, reading posts like this one from today:

If I hear one more person say that children should be spanked because they don't have logic and reasoning skills I'm going to scream.

In general, people start hitting kids around 2 years old, and in some cases before they even begin to crawl or talk. This is a time in the child's life when their young brain is growing and developing at a rapid pace. This is the period when they begin to explore the world, to test things, to do some problem-solving so they can succeed later on in life. So when parents begin hitting during this period, they begin to rewire the child's brain.
Hitting does not teach the child to think about problem-solving. Hitting does not teach logic and reasoning. Hitting does not teach emotional regulation. Hitting teaches the child to begin to think about how to avoid pain. About fear. About how not to get caught misbehaving. How not to trust. How to avoid being hyper-vigilant.

Before the child enters school, all that hitting has set your kid up for worrying about pain and worrying about what they need not to do to get hit. This kind of parenting plays a role in producing racial disparities in educational achievement and juvenile justice.
Patton is always provocative and even raw. Sometimes I disagree with her, but I'm glad to know about her and her work.

(If you're logged into Facebook, you can find her page here. She's also on Twitter. Her blog is called

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