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Monday, October 11, 2004 - Spare The Rod?:Recent studies have shown that positive disciplinary methods are highly effective in creating well-behaved, academically confident, socially responsible individuals. Still, many African-American parents find it hard to let go of old-school ways, in part because they are so deeply ingrained in our culture. “During slavery, the thought among Black people was, You got to beat the badness out of the boy, because if he were to stand up for himself in front of the master, it could mean death,” explains Joy DeGruy-Leary, Ph.D., an assistant professor of social work at Portland State University and an expert in post-traumatic slave syndrome. DeGruy-Leary’s work studies the residual effects of slavery in modern culture.

But in today’s world, DeGruy-Leary says, we should question what was then a survival mechanism. “We no longer have to protect our children in that way,” she explains. Therefore we must ask ourselves why we continue to perpetuate these methods. DeGruy-Leary speculates that this behavior represents the parts of who we are that are broken, “and we haven’t had a chance to heal.” The challenge for today’s parents, then, is to unlearn the past and replace it with positive parenting methods.

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