To Spank or Not to Spank

Giving your child a swat when he or she misbehaves can be part of the journey to well-adjusted adolescence, according to a report by a noted child psychologist.

The June 2 issue of the National Post reported that Professor Robert Larzelere, psychology professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, told delegates at the June International Conference on the Changing Family, in Alberta, Canada that two- to six-year-olds who are spanked by "loving, sober, parents who are in control of their anger" can grow up to be well-adjusted children.

Professor Larzelere's assertion challenges studies that suggest detrimental outcomes from spanking. Opponents of spanking maintain that the practice is assault and children should never be subjected to it. Larzelere acknowledged that studies have associated "small detrimental outcomes" with the spanking of children ages six to nine. However, he said these outcomes do "not seem to be unique to spanking." Grounding, sending children to their rooms, removing privileges, and taking away their allowance all produce similar outcomes, said Larzelere. This suggests that perhaps any time parents use disciplinary measures too frequently, the outcome will be detrimental. With that in mind, Larzelere told delegates at the conference that experts should be advising parents how to use a variety of disciplinary approaches effectively rather than campaigning for zero-tolerance of spanking.

He also suggested past studies linking spanking to increased anti-social behavior may be flawed. It all comes down to the chicken-and-egg dilemma. Researchers have failed to prove that some children behave worse as a result of spanking because it may be that the children who are being spanked more frequently behave worse to begin with.

In fact, Larzelere reports 94 percent of parents found it necessary, on occasion, to spank children who are three and four years old. In his view, no scientific evidence exists that indicates "we ought to be against" spanking. Even opponents of spanking at the conference were forced to admit that scientific evidence of spanking-induced harm is less than definitive.

In 1996, after hearing this evidence, the American Academy of Pediatrics conference on spanking concluded that, "Given a healthy family life in a supportive environment, spanking in and of itself is not detrimental to a child or predictive of later problems."



Forced to Walk a Legal Tight Wire

The Massachusetts Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case involving a parent's right to spank their children. The case goes back to 1997 when the Department of Social Services charged Pastor Donald Cobble. Authorities were called in when his son told school officials he had been spanked after bringing home a bad report card. Under Massachusetts law, spanking is considered abusive if it causes tissue swelling. Reuters News quotes Cobble's lawyer, who says the spanking left some tiny red marks that went away in ten minutes. A ruling is expected before years' end.

AFR News, September 14, 1999



Disney Predator

Patrick Naughton, the executive who oversaw Disney's vast "Go Network" of web sites, was arrested by FBI agents in Los Angeles in September after soliciting sex online from an FBI agent posing as a minor. He showed up at a Santa Monica pier for what authorities said he expected to be a sexual encounter with a fourteen-year-old girl and was charged with interstate travel with the intention of having sex with a minor. According to the Los Angeles Times newspaper, the arrest followed a six-month investigation in which an FBI agent posed as a fourteen-year-old girl whom Naughton met in an Internet chat room. The Times says when agents arrested him, they also seized his portable computer, which Naughton said contained sexually explicit images of children.

Michael Eisner, chairman of The Disney Company, has repeatedly stressed the importance of protecting children from harmful material on the Net.

Reuters, September 19, 1999; AFR News, September 21, 1999



Cleaning Up TV Talk

A new invention being sold in LifeWay Christian Stores is coming to the aid of families and churches that would like to eliminate offensive language from their television.

Curse Free TV is a small computer that filters curse words from television, separate videocassette recorders, satellite dishes, and cable box devices. While not a perfect method to safeguarding what we see and hear, it blocks profanity and other objectionable language, including taking the name of God in vain, from most network programs and videos.

Gary Loftin, manager of the LifeWay Christian Store in Knoxville, Tenn., told a Knoxville News Sentinel reporter that requests for the curse word censor are far-reaching and second only to calls about upcoming installments of the top-selling "Left Behind" fiction series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins.

Loftin has sold the $149.95 box to buyers as far away as Idaho Falls, Idaho, and Corpus Christi, Texas. After he was pictured with the product in newspapers across the nation, calls poured in – many from television station managers whose viewers wanted more information.

The device searches hidden close-captioning text for more than 100 offensive words. Once the word is detected, the box momentarily mutes the sound and replaces it with acceptable words and phrases. An occasional slip-up occurs during live programming when closed captioning is not available or when closed caption text is misspelled.

Unlike the V-chip, which totally blocks an R-rated program and doesn't work with video movies, the profanity-censoring device cleans up R-rated language. The device only works on language, so households must continue to take appropriate measures to avoid immoral themes and images. Curse Free TV is available in LifeWay Christian Stores and at its Internet store – www.lifewaystores.com.



Silver Sewer Award

The "Silver Sewer Award" was handed out in September at a special ceremony on Capitol Hill. The recipient was one of the country's media giants, Rupert Murdoch of the Fox Television Network. Former Secretary of Education William Bennett and Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman presented the award. They said Murdoch deserved it for his "dedication to the pursuit of profit above principle and significantly contributing to the pollution of our culture." The pair presented Murdoch and Fox with a special "lifetime achievement" award for "its tireless, tasteless, and ongoing efforts to drag down network programming standards and for its cutting-edge contribution to the coarsening of our culture."

The announcement cited Fox's legacy of anti-family and exploitative programming (Married With Children, When Animals Attack) and exceedingly foul new shows, including Get Real, Action, and Manchester Prep. Previous winners of the award include CBS for The Howard Stern Show and Seagrams for giving television audiences The Jerry Springer Show.

Associated Press, September 14, 1999; Parents Television Council E-Alert, September 15, 1999



Relief in the Wake of the Storm

Southern Baptist disaster relief responded to the unprecedented massive flooding left in the wake of Hurricane Floyd, providing hot meals, clean up crews, and the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The first units in place were feeding units, which prepared meals in central locations for delivery by the American Red Cross to affected areas. More than 541,471 meals had been prepared as of Sept. 29 by the fourteen feeding sites in four states staffed by Southern Baptists.

Multi-state relief efforts are coordinated by the North American Mission Board, while individual disaster relief units are funded by state conventions, local associations, and churches, and staffed by volunteers.



Chinese Seek to Fill Spiritual Void with Counterfeit Faith

In late April more than 10,000 silent protesters gathered at the government compound in Beijing to demand that their religious sect be recognized as an official group in China and that the ban be lifted on their holy writings. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder, then sat, legs crossed in the "lotus" position as many as eight deep, protesting silently. This gathering was Beijing's largest protest since the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in June of 1989. Their religion: Falun Dafa. Although Falun Dafa is not even ten years old, Chinese officials estimate it has already amassed a following of 60 million people in China and 100 million worldwide.

Its message of hope and salvation has become so popular among a Chinese people starved for spiritual sustenance that the government has begun to fear the political power the group may have. Its leader was even forced to leave China once Falun Dafa took off. In an effort to curb the group's influence, a Chinese TV station issued a report calling Falun Dafa a cult. Protests in response to the report were so large that the station was forced to fire the reporter who aired the report and issue a retraction statement to restore order. Government officials say they are now wary of openly criticizing the Falun Dafa because the disciples of founder Li Hongzhi are notoriously frenzied about any criticisms of their teacher.

This new religion started by Hongzhi (commonly known as Mr. Li) emphasizes moral uprightness such as not smoking, drinking, or engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage. A prominent feature of the religion is the "Law Wheel" which Mr. Li claims he can conjure at will. Mr. Li describes the Law Wheel as a ceaselessly spinning miniature of the cosmos; he telekinetically "installs" one in the abdomens of followers as they read his books to protect them from illness or interference by evil spirits. The holy writings of Falun Dafa have been translated into nine different languages worldwide. They speak of salvation and heaven but devote much space to discussions of levitation, possession by animal spirits, and seeing the future with a third eye, located in the pineal gland behind the forehead.

Mr. Li claims, "I exist in many bodies, in many dimensions. I am the oldest original spirit in the universe." In fact, he says Jesus and Buddha were teachers like himself, leading people toward similar forms of enlightenment. But he says their original teachings have been diluted and subverted over the course of time, so that today, it is nearly impossible to reach enlightenment by following those religions. "At the moment, I am the only person in the world who is teaching orthodox [law] in public," writes Li. One hundred million people worldwide seem to agree with Mr. Li.

The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 1999



Bedtime TV

A new study suggests that children who watch a lot of television, especially around bedtime or on a television in their bedrooms, are more likely to have sleeping problems. The doctor who led the study, Judith Owens, says many parents don't make the connection. She says while television watching may help to put adults to sleep, it seems to be a stimulant to some children. Owens suggests children need a calm-down period before bedtime and says one way parents can do that is to read to their children.

AFR News, September 8, 1999



Building "Natural Born Killers"

Oliver Stone and Time Warner will be deposed in a civil-suit involving a copy-cat killing inspired by Stone's 1994 film, Natural Born Killers. With public opinion already strongly opposed to media violence, Stone and Time Warner could have a hard time proving to a jury that they should not be held liable if their film inspired real-life violence. In April '96 Stone commented to The New York Times that "The most pacifistic people in the world said they came out of this movie and wanted to kill somebody."

Insight, May 17, 1999

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