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Strange Fruit: The Case Against Whuppings

Laura Ellis

Corporal punishment describes using physical punishment intended to cause pain as a means of discipline. The most common version of this practice involves hitting or spanking children. Black folks commonly call it getting or giving a “whupping.” The phrase “spare the rod, spoil the child” is often cited as a sort of religious mandate for such physical discipline of children (even though the popular idiom isn’t actually in the Bible). And despite research to the contrary, there are still many Black parents who contend that hitting their children will turn them into good adults, teach them respect, and protect them for the lure of social ills. In her book “ Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America ,” Dr. Stacey Patton asserts that whupping Black children has far-reaching, seldom-discussed consequences, including producing traumatized children that are prone to higher suspension and expulsions rates in school, interactions with the criminal justice system, mental health issues, and foster care placements. Dr. Patton joins us this week to make the case for why Black parents, and others who raise and care for children of color, should replace corporal punishment with nonviolent, positive discipline. And in hot topics news, a popular gospel singer takes a controversial stance on a “touchy” subject. Listen to the show:

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Jaison Gardner is co-creator and co-host of Louisville Public Media's "Strange Fruit" podcast. His work focuses on race, gender, and LGBTQ issues.