State funded National Radio (actually, I appreciate it immensely much of the time) broadcast an interview this morning on “research” into youth violence by Presbyterian Support researcher Sue Milligan. You can hear it for the next week on Radio NZ’s website. The research was based on 34 case studies and interviews with 40 people who worked with offending youth. This kind of qualitative research cannot properly be used to draw general conclusions about the population from which such small samples were taken. But such irritating patriarchal notions about science and knowledge did not stop Ms Milligan from blessing us with a full analysis of the relevant causes of the dramatic increase in violence and bad behaviour we are seeing in our youth (which at least she didn’t try to dismiss by quoting Aristotle). Apparently it’s all due to such factors as the stress our children endure, inadequate listening to them by teachers and parents, and the violence modelled by their families and society generally.
Of course, neither the researcher nor the interviewer thought it worth considering whether changes in discipline might have contributed to the problem. No mention was made of the banning of corporal punishment in schools and the steady deterioration in behaviour since then. The prediction that if we stop “modelling violence through physical punishment” then violence in society would disappear has been contradicted by events, but that didn’t stop the ideologues from illegalizing smacking and maintaining their over-reliance on simplistic modelling theory at the expense of other influences on behaviour such as punishment and reward.
So is this relevant to men’s issues? Very much so methinks. The idea that physical force equates to violence which is always bad is essentially a feminist ideological formulation. The role of men who can offer physical strength to intervene and to provide natural consequences for socially unacceptable behaviour has been resented and demonized, so now only uniformed agents of the state are allowed to use any such force. The demand by feminists that the state should usurp fathers’ roles (and make them pay for this privilege) required the promotion of beliefs that fathers are unnecessary and that their traditional roles in child rearing were not only useless but undesirable.
Sooner or later it will have to be acknowledged that policies based almost entirely on modelling theory are failing and that parents and teachers need the right to assert physical dominance over children at times in order to provide timely and effective behaviour-shaping consequences. We will need to recognize that pain receptors exist in part to assist in learning (hence we don’t keep touching hot objects or gorse bushes), and that a total, ideological restriction on taking advantage of pain receptors in socializing our children is foolish. We will need to realize that if people are not allowed to use physical force for responsible reasons, this will leave the violent criminals in our society much freeer to dominate the rest of us. No way will the police ever be able to replace that particular traditional male role unless every second person is recruited into the force.
The educative practice condoning corporal punishment, or alternatively rejecting, for their substance, provide a very good model on how important decisions are made that miss the qualitative component recognising differences between genders, and their subsequent behaviours. Girls, I would believe are most unlikely to get the cane: strapping possibly but not the cane. This isn’t simply because of the fact that we do not wish to damage girls but more likely to be a compounded affect that women’s violence is not factored to be any different from that of boys. This conclusion means that when we removed corporal punishment it recognised in my opinion, reasonably, that there was no necessity to hit children in order to affect more appropriate behaviour but overlooked the condition of violence, its constitution, and that by focusing primarily on the negative behaviour of boys the intention to alleviate their violence by not hitting them missed that the intiative was only focused on boys. So only one strain of behaviour received the focus of needing alternative measures to curb its impact on society. This lopsided view, where not recognising violence meant that the measure to compete with violence had not been researched and that the alternatives on how the teachers should cope with the problems were not instruments at their disposal. Exactly the same has happened with the Anti – Smacking Bill. The idea might be right but the families are just quite simply not able to cope. This exasperates the problem it doesn’t remedy it. Like for the teachers the parents don’t know what to do and there isn’t the help out there that has been researched and developed adequately to provide advise that is remedial. It simply redistributes blame, from the child onto the adult.
The detail of this may appear convoluted but I do not believe it is. If you stop physical violence you have to have alternatives accessible in order to achieve the principle hope that demands the removal of that violence. If the full body of violence isn’t recognised, girls general practices in being violent as against boys, then the disparity to cope with violence is bigger than any mechanism outruling physical discipline. So the measures removing the need to hit children may be valuable but because we do not have a full comprehension on what violence means then we cannot accurately affect a measure to contain its affect. The girls get away with more blue murder than ever before: and the boys cop the blame because they tend to commit the murder.
The thing that I find most stunning, most especially through this recent debate on the no smacking of children is that those who impliment the rules ignore this basic issue. They won’t listen. Women behave badly and it is not seen as bad behaviour and it is therefore encouraged and the blokes cop it. If the blokes bad behaviour is not contained in a form that is more specific to their natural responsive nature and there is no direct alternative in place to contain that behaviour then it will get worse.
In the end we have everyone being judged on one set of principles – those in this example of women’s. So who suffers as the adults haven’t worked it out? Eventually the teachers, eventually the parents but obviously the child, where our obligation to encourage children responsibly misses out that we haven’t mapped human behaviour. We’ve got the human genome mapped but still have no idea on how to compete with spite and hatred: which in turn manifests.