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Information for Parents

"Wise" old King Solomon wrote, "He who does not beat his son does not love him". And for thousands of years, children have been beaten because their parents were convinced that this was the right way for them to become responsible adults.

In the past few years, however, we have learned that these parents were wrong and that physical punishment, however slight, produces only negative results. Though short-term obedience may come of it, the child will, over the long term, become aggressive, violent, suicidal, physically sick, or subject to psychic disorders, unless an enlightened witness comes to his rescue and prevents this cycle of events. A wide range of research results are today available that demonstrate this link. (It is worth noting that King Solomon's son, Rehoboam, became an oppressive dictator who narrowly escaped being stoned to death for his cruelty.)

There is no such thing as a harmless slap or spanking. Both are forms of physical violence that involve humiliation and abuse of power. They damage the healthy self-esteem of a child and disregard their right to dignity. For this reason, it will hopefully soon be illegal to beat a child, at least in over one hundred countries that have signed the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Many people have trouble understanding this. In that they themselves were beaten as children, they believe that physical punishment is very normal and useful. Our parents believed the same thing, because they were brought up that way as well, and could not know the later consequences of their acts. Many did so because they thought it was right and because it was the only way they knew. Today's parents, however, must be clearly informed of the recent discoveries so that they do not continue simply out of ignorance.

Anyone driving a car must know the rules of the road, otherwise they may inadvertently hurt or even kill other people. It is crucial that parents know that, for example, shaking a baby can cause irreversible brain damage. To avoid child mistreatment due to a lack of awareness, parents will receive this information sheet. Many parents have the best intentions and really want to love their children, but are inhibited by their own upbringing. They have the right to be informed before it is too late.

German translation

French translation

Copyright © Alice Miller, 1997

Although this document is copyrighted and must be not shortened, added or changed, it can be used for pamphlets, leaflets or posters. It can be distributed as widely as possible, above all in schools - before young people decide to have children without knowing what this decision involves. Everybody, young and old, can participate in this action.