Greg Horn aka "The Asshole Who Whipped His 12 and 14 Year Old Daughters On Camera" has been charged with child endangerment and corporal punishment. Link:
Here is a picture of the piece of shit child abuser:
For those not in the know what happened is two sisters (aged 12 and 14) were making a 'twerk' video ('twerking' definition) to post on Facebook when their father walked into the room and proceeded to whip them with an audio/video cable while they screamed, cried and pleaded for mercy. Here is the video of the event in question (warning: it's fucking disturbing, probably doubly so if, like me, you have a daughter):
Nice, eh? (Yes, I'm Canadian). So he beats them and gets arrested. He will likely end up in jail (especially give that this is not his first child abuse charge.....classy). Disgusting, but at least it's over now, right? We saw it, we felt the emotion, maybe discussed it with friends/family, and now we, along with the news cycle, can move on, right?
Well, no. Not me. This whole thing is driving me absolutely batshit insane and I can't stop thinking about it. I have been reading comments from people about this situation posted on various websites, and discussed it a bit myself on a forum/message board I frequent, and even though I knew it was going to happen, I still found myself feeling absolutely astonished at the fact that there are actually people, large numbers of them even, defending this scumbag's actions! This horrifies and infuriates me of course, as we are talking about the vicious beating of two little girls by the person who is supposed to be nurturing and protecting them, but what I feel even more strongly than the horror/anger is a profound sadness at just how little people seem to think/know about/understand their own kids (or just kids in general).
Note: Of course there is a bunch of nonsense being written about "sparing the rod and spoiling the child" and other biblical nonsense, but I am going to suppress my urge to go off on religion for the gazillionth time and stick to the psychological angle- as hard as that may be to do....I mean seriously, we are talking about grown adults in 2013 assessing the morality of beating little girls using Bronze Age mythology but I (begrudgingly) digress.
This issue is a multifaceted one. If you are going to attempt to determine whether or not the father's actions were justified the main thing to consider would seemingly be the effect something like this may have on children's physical and psychological well being (both in the short and long term); however, there are a few other things that strike me as worthy of consideration if trying to gauge the morality (or lack thereof) of the man's actions.
Firstly, you have the kids' actions that acted as the catalyst for this whole situation to begin with. The two girls became aware of 'twerk' videos (apparently it's somewhat of a recent dance craze) and decided to make one themselves (fully clothed, btw). So to me, it seems pertinent that a parent would want to know/understand/consider what would compel the girls to make such a video in the first place?
Following from that, an assessment of whether or not their actions were even worthy of concern (let alone a vicious physical assault bordering on fucking torture) would logically be next. It seems almost unanimous that most people feel that what the girls did was something that any father should automatically be angered by (or at least just concerned about....but most people seem to go with the first). However, it seems to me that the vast majority of these people came to this conclusion without ever considering the motivations behind the girls' actions in the first place. Or, if they did, it's a topical assessment devoid of any real prolonged thought/knowledge about the psychology of girls at that age (which saddens me since many of these people are themselves parents).
And so we have as things to consider:
1) The effect something like this may have on children's physical and psychological well being (both in the short and long term)
2) What actually motivates girls at that age to do things like this in the first place
3) Whether or not them making the 'twerking' video was even that bad to begin with
Physical and Psychological Effects
The physical effects are pretty obvious. Pain both during and after, bruising, welts, etc. In fact, in this case, permanent scarring and open wounds were reported by the physician who treated the girls after their mother saw them upon returning home from their father's house and called the authorities.
The psychological effects are not so obvious, and will of course differ on a case by case basis. Psychology is notoriously variable and there are many more factors at play than just one particular event. That being said, there has been a lot of research on the psychological effects of corporal punishment on children and there seems to be a consensus on the issue (one study, a literature review by the Ministry of Social Development in New Zealand, had this to say about the emerging consensus: "The extent of agreement in the research literature on this issue is unusual in the social sciences"). A consensus in the direction of punishment of this type being prone to leading to averse psychological effects (in both the short term and long). Here is a statement from the APSA:
Research shows that physical punishment is associated with an increase in delinquency, antisocial behaviour and aggression in children, and a decrease in the quality of the parent-child relationship, mental health, and the child's capacity to internalize socially acceptable behavior. Adults who have been subject to physical punishment as children are more likely to abuse their own child or spouse and to manifest criminal behaviour. (link)They continue on:
Hitting a child elicits precisely the feelings one does not want to generate in a child: distress, anger, fear, shame, and disgust. Studies show that children who are hit identify with the aggressor and are more likely to become hitters themselves, i.e., bullies and future abusers of their children and spouses. They tend to learn to use violent behaviour as a way to deal with disputes.The previously quoted literature review completed in New Zealand had this to say:
Long considered an effective, and even necessary, means of socialising children, physical punishment has been revealed to be a predictor of a wide range of negative developmental outcomes. Physical punishment is associated with increased child aggression, antisocial behaviour, lower intellectual achievement, poorer quality of parent–child relationships, mental health problems (such as depression), and diminished moral internalisation.And so it goes. Now, of course there is a possible counter argument here; that being that these effects may constitute a correlation but may not necessarily demonstrate a causal relationship between corporal punishment and these negative outcomes. Any decent skeptic would have to point this out (as I am now) if they wish to maintain a standard of intellectual honesty. Some evidence in favour of the 'correlation but not necessarily causation' thinking is the fact that corporal punishment is highly related to socio-economic status (link). The psychological attributes in question are most often seen in children born into/raised by low income families, as is the presence of corporal punishment in the home. And so, the thinking goes, it could be that the hardships endured by low income families is in fact what causes these psychological outcomes rather than the physical punishment itself.
This thought actually ties in perfectly with a little pet theory (I am here using theory in the colloquial sense) of mine (a theory, btw, that is also substantiated by research); that theory (technically a hypothesis) being that much of, if not most, corporal punishment is an outlet of sorts. A way of venting anger, frustration, sadness, despair, stress, etc. A reaction the the life situation in which the parent in questions finds themselves as opposed to a conscious choice with the best interests of the child in mind. You can see this at play in the video above. If you listen closely at around twenty five seconds into the video, the guy says something like "what now, motherfucker" (or "dance now, motherfucker) as he is whipping one of the poor girls. This is clearly a person who is not at all in control of himself and is acting purely out of anger/frustration. He is upset at their actions, sure, but quite likely several other things at once as well (many of which he himself was probably not even aware of at the time) and so the vicious beating was basically just him venting/acting out of desperation.
Evidence for this being more than a mere correlation is available, however. Longitudinal studies have been conducted and they seem to point to there being a bi-directional causal relationship between corporal punishment and these psychological/cognitive/behavioural attributes, meaning that there does seem to be a causal relationship, but it works both ways rather than one linear causal chain. Physical punishment can cause aggressive tendencies in children, but aggressive children are also more likely to be physically punished (their behaviours cause the punishment). So while a physically disciplined/abused (depending on your definition) child is more prone to "acting out" a child who "acts out" is more likely to get hit, especially by a parent of lower socio-economic status.
I believe that should cover the physical and psychological effects (this is a blog post after all and not a research paper), but before I move on to the next point of discussion I want to very quickly address something that came up over and over and over again during my time reading about this/discussing it:
"My parents hit me and I turned out fine" (and all of the various ways of stating the same thing).
1) You are acting as though the only two factors here are the presence/absence of hitting in the home and your current status in life. That is not at all the case. Your families' socio-economic status, your genetic predispositions (temperament, ability to endure, intelligence, etc), the relationships you have had/are currently in, your socio-economic status, the extent to which you were hit and how often, etc. Lots of factors to consider.
2) Define "fine." Is "fine" someone who thinks whipping kids is okay? Could you have been better? Perhaps your life might have turned out more than "fine" if your parents had utilized different disciplinary actions?
3) You're using a singular case (or if you want to add in a few people you personally know then a handful of cases) to dispute a generalized truism regarding the effects on populations of people as a whole. This type of statement is no different than "my grandfather smoked two packs a day for 75 years and died of non smoking related causes." That may be the case, but are you trying to use this anecdote regarding one person to dispel scientific evidence showing that smoking is a serious health hazard and results in a large number of lifelong smokers dying early and as a direct result of their choosing to smoke? Have you never heard the phrase "the exception that proves the rule?" This is a very poor argument and it astounds me just how often I saw it posted online. The average adult seems to be rather poor at logical thought and this makes me very sad when I consider that these people are raising kids and many of them are hitting them and using terrible logic to defend their uneducated actions.
So Why Twerk?
So the second point I wanted to discuss was what actually motivates girls at that age to do things like this in the first place? It stands to reason, at least in my mind, that if you are going to beat the shit out of a young girl for making a dance video, you must have some pretty strong ideas about why they did it (and what can result from it, but that's the next (and last) point of discussion so for now I back off from this point lest I digress).
So why make the video?
If you asked their father why he thinks they made it do you think he would have an insightful answer as to why they did it? I doubt it. And here is the crux (or at least one of the very few foundational ones) of my whole point: Rather than beating the shit out of them with a wire, would it not be much better to sit them down and talk to them about their actions and the underlying motivations for them? Given the fact that he was obviously so convinced that them making the video was a terrible thing to do (many, if not most of the people talking about this online also seemed to be convinced that the girls' actions were bad and worthy of punishment) would it not stand to reason that he would want to know why they made it? And then try to explain to them why doing so is a bad idea?
If they are (in your eyes) doing something wrong in the making of this video (if you have not figured it out, I don't believe them making the video was even that bad in the first place.....yes, I know, I am ridiculous, unreasonable and obviously don't care then if my daughter does X or Y (insert any typical slippery slope argument here; I've heard them all)) and you are worried about them/their future would you not think that it makes more sense to try and express this to them and get to the bottom of it rather than whipping them to the point of near torture while calling them "motherfuckers?" What will they really learn from his approach?
So, once again, the question remains, why make the video? According to the throngs of people online quoting the bible, talking about rods and spoiling, the downfall of civilization and how bad this generation of kids is because they are being spoiled by not being physically assaulted, these girls made the video because kids are let off too easy these days and these girls are just copying the actions of the people in question. The word "sluts" got thrown around a lot. Lots of talk about loose morals, disrespectful kids, a lack of discipline and accountability, etc. Of course, none of them have any real perspective, because if they did they would realize that these sorts of things have been said for millennia and we have evidence of this in the historical record. In fact, there are some ancient writings lamenting the downfall of civilization due to disrespectful and unruly kids being allowed to run wild by far too passive parents that sound like they could have been written yesterday.
If we cut through the nonsense and try and get at the actual reasons for why they made the video, what you come to realize by learning about the psychology of children/pre-teens/teens (once again we come to education....a common theme here it seems, and for good reason) is that their actions were a perfectly normal expression of natural inclinations that merit much less concern than people are saying they do (if any at all....but I don't necessarily need to go that far, nor want to, so we can stick with much less concern rather than none, because I think I myself would have had a little conversation with my daughter to see where she is at mentally).
The inclinations to which I am referring are as follows:
-The need to be liked/fit in (we are extremely social creatures, especially at that age)
-The need to explore/try new things
-The inclination to express a budding sexuality (a perfectly natural thing that people seem to want to stamp out due to our ridiculously repressive and puritanical culture that seeks to demonize our very natures (thanks religion!) and cause all sorts of neuroses and other problems in people that don't need to be there
-The inclination to have fun
If you haven't yet grasped why I am not only so angry about this but so sad and full of despair (seriously, I just want to scream from the rooftops and cry and I don't know what else but I wish I could just get 5 minutes on TV to address the populace and say some things that really fucking need to be said) I really want you to think about this for a second. Even if, like people both online and in "real life" who think I am crazy, immoral, deluded, way too sensitive, a huge pussy, just being a contrarian, etc. you think the same things about me while reading this, I would ask that you just at least please stop for a second, try to clear your mind and truly, honestly consider the following two paragraphs (really read them and think it through for a minute) and then see what you think/how you feel and if it has changed at all (either about the debate itself or just how you feel about my reactions, even if you still think I am wrong :
Let's just say I am right and that them making this video was just the natural, normal and reasonable actions of a pair of young girls who are exploring themselves, their burgeoning sexuality, and just trying to navigate the confusing and ever changing world around them full of mixed messages and that it does not at all reflect the fact that civilization is crumbling all around us thanks to a generation of unruly, undisciplined and immoral kids led by pussified parents who don't discipline them anymore (and ignore the fact that this has been said basically by every generation ever throughout history). If that is indeed the case then this is what has been happening (and what I have been struggling with mentally) for a few days now:
Two young girls were beaten by their own father for acting like two young girls, and then, upon seeing the video of these two young girls being beaten for acting like two young girls, thousands of people (many of them also parents), rather than being horrified actually commended the father for whipping the shit out of his daughters (while they cried, screamed and begged for him to stop, btw) and said that the reason why everything is apparently so shitty is because more people aren't beating their daughters for acting like, well, young girls. And when I, completely aghast at this, pointed this out and tried to explain the folly in it, I was laughed at, called names and had to endure horrible things being said about my daughter and her future. All because I was terribly upset at seeing thousands of people justifying the beating (possibly even torture; definition depending) of two girls being whipped for acting like the young girls that they are.
Just let that sink in for a while.
I was going to expand upon point number three (whether or not them making the 'twerking' video was even that bad (or bad at all) to begin with but I basically already did and I'm feeling emotionally drained after spending the last 4.5 hours on this subject. I will just say that the girls were fully clothed, they may not have understood the sexual connotations involved in "shaking dat ass" and even if they did, they are girls just coming into their sexuality and therefore exploring it (as well as doing the other things I pointed out above). Even if you still think it was bad of them to do it, and like I said earlier, if my daughter was that age (for those who do not know, she is only 4 atm) and made such a video I wouldn't exactly be cheering her on (so you can bottle up those silly slipper slope counter-arguments involving her and what else I would let her do if I let her do this) but there is literally ZERO conceivable way I could get from her making a 'twerking' video to me beating the shit out of her. If I thought it necessary I would sit her down and have a good talk with her. Open lines of communication, honesty, respect and love are a fuck of a lot better than beatings.
One last thing. Frankly, those of you defending the father online and quoting your barbaric Bible are fucked, and fuck you to those who laughed at me and insulted both myself and my daughter when I said what I just said about open lines of communication, honesty, respect and love being a fuck of a lot better than beatings. I'm not the crazy/fucked up one. YOU are. I mean, for fuck's sake, do I really live in a world in which I am lambasted by adults for arguing against whipping 12-14 year old girls in favour of talking to them and treating them the same way you would treat anyone else (unless you go around whipping your spouse, friends and co-workers)?
I don't know if I can take this anymore. I feel like I am in a movie sometimes, but I don't see a crew, my entourage is a bunch of online hecklers and my only payment seems to be despair. But hey, at least I get paid a lot, right?