Jesus said in Matthew 18:6-7, “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about is neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
The following is taken from : “Trends, Risks and Interventions in Lethal Violence: Proceedings of the 3rd annual spring symposium of the Homicide Research Working Group. Washington DC: National Institute of Justice (1994).”
The connection between parenting and violent behavior carries a critical message: parenting is important. The way we treat our children can have devastating repercussions for them, for us, and for society at large. Violence is an expensive enterprise that erodes the very foundation of society. Part of that expense lies in the fact that children who become violent are prone toward poor health, drug abuse, marital instability and severe employment problems (Dryfoos, 1990:32). Violence does not result from parents failing to teach children the important lessons of life, but instead from how such lessons are taught or not taught. Robert M. Regoli and John D. Hewitt (1994) portray children as an oppressed minority. Oppression is the unjust use of authority, and childhood oppression and abuse are rooted in the childhood experiences of adults. It all goes back to tradition, to the Bible, to the way things always have been – and therefore are “supposed to be.” We think that because children are little that they have little pain. But, in fact, the pain from their oppression, humiliation and abuse, sometimes ever so subtle, translates into fear, anger and even rage so intense that they must deaden their own pain to survive. And when they deaden their own pain, they cannot feel the hurt that they inflict on others – hence, violence, sometimes deadly in character. In the words of Philip Greven (1990:18): Fear stifles love and constricts our ability to put ourselves in the place of others, to have empathy, to feel compassion, to know pity, and to extend ourselves openly and freely toward other lives and other people. It should be noted that focusing on violent behavior exclusively as a consequence of defect parenting is shortsighted, indeed, in that it ignores other damaging outcomes that are more difficult to measure, but nonetheless serious and in some cases life-threatening.
In this thorough analysis of the consequences of physical punishment on children, Greven (1990) includes the following:
(1) Anxiety and fear;
(2) Anger and hate;
(3) Apathy and the stifling of empathy;
(4) Melancholy and depression;
(5) Obsessiveness and rigidity;
(6) Ambivalence – protect and destroy;
(7) Dissociation (including multiple personalities);
(10) Domestic violence;
(11) Aggression and delinquency;
(12) Authoritarianism; and
(13) The apocalyptic impulse.
These factors are analyzed in the context of a plea to promote the well-being and even survival of humanity in this nuclear age. The child maltreatment literature is replete with well-documented destructive outcomes (Clark & Clark, 1989: xxvii – xxviii; Star, Maclean & Keating, 1991). In this context, the critical nature of parenting is brought into bold relief. Violence represents but one of many costs to humanity and threats imposed upon its structural integrity resulting from the improper treatment of children by their parents. It is important to recognize that modern parents are operating in a social order that is in many ways hostile to family cohesion and viability and to effective parenting. It is one conducive to stressful relationships and inadvertent child neglect (Hamburg, 1990). Parents need all of the help that they can get to produce socially and economically productive offspring.”