OK, I’ll say it. One of the best things we can do for today’s youth
is for adults, in positions of authority, to develop a willingness to
give the hind parts of misbehaving youth appropriate attention. You say,
“Williams, are you suggesting that we return to the old-fashioned,
uncivilized practice of whipping children?” Yes, that is precisely what
First, let’s address the issues of old-fashioned and uncivilized.
During my youth — the old-fashioned and uncivilized ’40s and ’50s —
parents and sometimes teachers whipped misbehaving young people.
Whipping has always been one of the tools of discipline, until we
allowed experts into our lives. Dr. Spock and other “experts” told us we
shouldn’t whip our children. They advised that having to whip a child
was a sign of parental failure.
Regardless of what the “experts” preached, the undeniable fact is the
“uncivilized” practice of whipping children produced more civilized
young people. Youngsters didn’t use foul language to, or in the presence
of, teachers and other adults. In that “uncivilized” era, assaulting a
teacher or adult would have never crossed our minds. Today, foul
language and teacher assaults are routine in many schools.
For some kinds of criminal behavior, I think we’d benefit from having
punishment along the lines of Singapore’s caning as a part of our
judicial system. You say, “Williams, how cruel can you be?” Let’s think
about cruelty. Today, it’s not uncommon for young criminals to be
arrested, counseled and released to the custody of a parent 20 or 30
times before they spend one night in jail. Such a person is a very good
candidate for later serving a long prison sentence or worse, facing the
If you interviewed such a person and asked: “Thinking back to when
you started your life of crime, would you have preferred a punishment
such as caning, that might have set you straight, or be where you are
today?” I’d bet my retirement money that he’d say he wished someone had
caned some sense into him. That being the case, which is more cruel:
caning or allowing such a person to become a criminal?
It’s difficult for parents to raise children all by themselves. Part
of raising children is the environment. That environment includes other
adults. During my youth, I might be doing something mischievous such as
throwing stones. An adult would come over to me and ask, “Does your
mother know you’re out here throwing stones?” I’d reply, “No sir or no
ma’am,” and hoped that the matter ended there. Today, it’s quite
different. An adult correcting a youngster risks cursing and possibly
assault. That’s a sad commentary: Adults are justifiably afraid of
Do we Americans as parents, teachers, principals and others in
positions of authority have the guts and willpower to control our
youngsters? Or, are we going to play costly games such as having metal
detectors at school entrances, video monitors, locked classrooms,
hallway guards, teacher panic alarms and in general a jail-like
atmosphere at our schools? Youngsters could be stopped very easily from
bringing weapons to school.
You say: “How, Williams? What makes you smarter than the experts who
haven’t figured it out?” Here’s my prediction: If the punishment for the
first offense of bringing a weapon to school was five lashes on the butt
with a cane, and the punishment was carried live on the six o’clock
news, there’d be an end of weapons being brought to schools.
Children, especially boys, are born barbarians. We as parents and
teachers have a mere 18 years to civilize them before foisting them off
on the rest of society, and we’re not doing the best job that we can.