Responsible spanking not a good alternative to other...


February 22, 1999

Responsible spanking not a good alternative to other discipline

I was very disturbed to see the Opinion Commentary article by William R. Mattox Jr. ("Supporting responsible spanking" Feb. 8). I was surprised to see your paper, which has taken such a strong stance on behalf of our children through the Reading by 9 program, publish this article.

One of the dangers in articles touting the benefits of "responsible spanking" is that the responsible part of the message is lost. The message becomes: Spanking is OK.

What is missing from the title and the commentary is a full discussion of the factors that must be present to ensure so-called responsible spanking. The Baumrind study mentioned in the article cites the following guidelines for appropriate spanking:

It is controlled. It is contingent on the child's behavior. It is used immediately. It is used privately. It is carried out in conjunction with reasoning. It is mild; does not escalate to abuse. It is not used for children under 18 months or past puberty. The child is forewarned. The parent uses more positive than negative incentives. The parent is calm. The intention is to correct, not to retaliate.

How many of us could be sure that we would only spank under these circumstances? Although we all try to discipline in a reasonable and controlled manner all the time, life with young children leaves a lot of room for unreasonable and uncontrolled moments. The truth is our children can make us angry. And parents spank when they are angry.

Our real-life experiences tell us that children are frequently spanked outside the listed parameters.

We can responsibly and effectively discipline our children without spanking.

For too long, our society has sent the strong cultural message that it is OK to hit children (and until recently, women). What is needed is more information about how we can discipline our children effectively without spanking, more messages that say we don't have to hit our children.

I would ask that The Sun continue its commitment to children by devoting its energies to providing the same kind of thorough and helpful information about discipline as it has about reading. Such an education program would be a wonderful service to our community.

Sarah M. Sette, Baltimore

Drug-dealing landlords can become legitimate

Has it occurred to anyone that the "criminal landlords" could be encouraged to switch their drug dealing for legitimate real estate business ("When a drug lord is your landlord," Feb. 14)?

The initial article on the topic states that one of the young men made his first deal when he was 20. He obviously has above-average intelligence. The focus should be placed on getting the landlords to recognize and respect their responsibilities and the rights of their tenants.

Take it all away and the felons will simply continue to deal drugs. Their true addiction is to wealth.

A thriving, legitimate real estate business seems much better than drug dealing.

Kemi Robinson, Baltimore

After reading "When a drug lord is your landlord," I have lost all hope that our government will ever be able to effectively manage Baltimore City.

Drug lords buy inexpensive city properties, apathetically watch them fall into disrepair, illegally evict tenants and refuse to pay property taxes. Meanwhile, federal, state and local agencies recognize the problem but refuse to address it.

When asked how he plans to save the city, Housing Commissioner Daniel P. Henson III says that he would be glad to talk to someone about it.

The commissioner should do his job and enforce the law.

My neighbors and I haven't seen any benefits from the Inner Harbor, empowerment zones or the new stadiums. The quality of life here is horrendous and continues to decline. The city's property taxes are the highest in Maryland. I'm sick of it.

If the city allows drug lords and felons to circumvent its housing and tax codes while milking every last cent out of its employed, law-abiding citizens, it can only expect a mass exodus to the counties.

Eric Webb, Baltimore

Dorsey's visions on art will be missed by reader

I read with regret that John Dorsey, The Sun's art critic for the past 14 years, is retiring. Baltimore has been very fortunate to have such a fine writer and critic for so long. His positive review ("Moving along with Feitelson," Feb. 9) of Paul Hotvedt's paintings at the Galerie Francois, a show I happened to see, was typical: concise, thoughtful and quietly inviting. His modest, straightforward style, so clearly conveying the pleasure he experiences in such art, will be missed.

Thomas J. Fillion, Baltimore

Hardened criminals go free while senator gets arrested

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