Because recently, the Department of Burnt Ends heard about fliers posted around the Kansas metro area for a seminar on "responsible steps towards a proper spanking."
It was held in May at Countryside Baptist Church in Olathe. The spankmaster was the Rev. Mike Summers, a 45-year-old father of six. He's been teaching "Hope Seminars" every few years but decided to take it public this spring to raise awareness about the dos and don'ts of striking your own children with hard objects.
Just to make things clear, Summers describes himself as anything but a radical, wide-eyed fundamentalist. He says he often hears from parents who refuse to spank because they were abused themselves or because they love their children too much. Some parents worry that spanking will teach their children to solve problems by smacking the crap out of someone. But he says spanking is backed up in Bible verses, and he claims to have evidence showing that spanked kids do better in life.
"A lot of the research you might find, if you Google spanking, throws in a lot of child abuse," Summers explains. "They'll throw in slapping and beating and kicking and lump all that together with spanking. But what I advocate is a reasonable approach to corporal discipline."
Summers offers an eight-step guide to spanking that looks suspiciously like a dominatrix-training pamphlet. The steps include never spanking when angry, offering a reassuring hug afterward and never spanking with your hands. That's right. Hands ought to be comforting, says Summers, who prefers a wooden spoon. (Here's hoping Mrs. Summers uses a different spoon for her goulash.)
Not surprisingly, not everyone agrees with Summers' pro-spanking stance. "Spanking your child with an object is not OK," says Tracie Lansing, Kansas City metro director of the Kansas Childrens Service League. "I know of 15 steps before his eight steps, and not one of them involves corporal punishment." Instead, the group recommends, say, taking away privileges and other nonphysical methods to make sure the kids understand what behavior is unacceptable. Behavior such as hitting somebody.
But take comfort, spankers. Abbie Hodgson, with the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, says state law allows giving your kid a good smack — as long as there are no signs of physical or emotional injury. So far, no state or local authorities have investigated Hope Seminars, though the KCSL has sent child-welfare officials some concerned letters.
Summers has scheduled another class for the fall. If you can't wait, turn ahead a few pages. There's probably a gimp slave somewhere back there who needs a good spanking.