You Can't Just 'Whup' Kids' Drug Problem! 

You Can't Just 'Whup' Kids' Drug Problem! 
Posted by FoM on February 17, 1999 at 11:12:29 PT

When it comes to raising children, some residents living near the Longwood Plaza shopping center on Cleveland's East Side believe in "no pain, no gain." They made their feelings clear last week, during a community meeting concerning drug-related crime in the area.
Until several weeks ago, the plaza was a thriving marketplace, even though legitimate merchants didn't make much of a profit. But those selling drugs - usually teenagers or young adults, according to neighborhood residents - made big money.Cleveland Councilman Frank Jackson, whose ward includes the plaza, said dealers sold crack cocaine and marijuana to hundreds of customers daily. Competition for the lucrative business became so fierce that the dealers took to wearing bulletproof vests on the job. Nevertheless, one youth was killed in December.Yep, the shopping center was the place to go if you wanted to get high - and the place to avoid if you didn't want to risk your life for a Coke or a haircut. After intensified police patrols cleaned up the plaza, Jackson organized the community meeting at Triedstone Missionary Baptist Church on Feb. 9.How, he asked, could the neighborhood improve the lives of its children so they wouldn't turn to crime, so the drug dealing wouldn't return?The crowd of 125 told him bluntly: Beat them.The speakers' preferred term was "whup" - a down-home pronunciation of the word "whip." If that verb conjures visions of bullwhips applied to the bare backs of shackled slaves, never fear. The folks at the meeting advocated more benign devices: electric cords, switches or leather belts."I'm not talking about picking up a baseball bat," said Harllel Jones, director of the Denise McNair Community Center. "We're not talking about child abuse."Yes, they were.I can say that because I, like Jones and others in the audience, was "whupped" as a child. I was beaten so thoroughly that I thought the only meaning of the verb "wear" was "to whip really hard," as in my mother's promise to "wear me out."My mother combined psychological and physical punishments by making us dwell on the experience. She forced us to gather the switches she used. If we came back with a small, light branch, she went out and got the appropriate size herself. She made us strip, and she always beat us in the bathroom, with the door closed so we couldn't run away. Then she bragged about the whuppings to her friends, while we were in the other room, nursing our wounds.My mother wasn't a bad person; 30 years ago, whipping kids was a common form of discipline. Was it effective? Not really. Sure, we obeyed. But we also learned to avoid punishment by lying about our transgressions.Does my mother "whup" her grandchildren? Not a chance. She puts them into "time out." In severe cases, she punishes them by revoking their privileges.She would never pull out a switch now because she has realized there are better ways to discipline children.The best way uses both appropriate punishments and rewards. It's not a quick fix, though. You have to start when the child is still young, not when they are teenagers selling drugs on the street.At the meeting last week, Jones called the whuppings "corrective love." But you don't beat people because you love them. You beat them because you fear them - and you want them to fear you.Lord knows, the residents near Longwood Plaza should be afraid of a 16- or 17-year-old whose daily work attire includes a bulletproof vest and a gun. But a youth that hardened isn't going to put up with a beating, much less be changed by one.If anything, the adults who advocate beatings are confirming the code of the street, which respects power. The best way to inspire respect is through fear.Why would Longwood parents want to adopt the philosophy of the people who are destroying their community?Messages for Scruggs may be left at (216) 999-4327.
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