They can do no wrong

Examples of social decline, especially in the UK

They can do no wrong

Postby Elliott » 29 Dec 2012, 04:27

I think it would be good to have a thread about the ongoing problem of parents who refuse to see that their children are badly-behaved.

I heard a lot about this from my mother when she was teaching. Middle-class parents were as bad - if anything, worse than - working-class parents for it. It happened for different reasons according to class...

  • Among the under-class, it tended to be the case that both parents were unemployed and on welfare, and possibly junkies. Thus, they had little to distract them from fighting with each other except fighting with public servants - welfare officers, doctors, nurses and especially teachers. Conflicts with these authority figures were the be-all and end-all of their lives. So, when little LeToya was accused of bad behaviour by her teacher, they would automatically take her side and launch a soap opera crusade against the school which was, of course, discriminating against her and her family.
  • Among the working-class, it tended to be simply that they didn't know any better, so they would lash out at the snooty teacher who dared to criticise their child. They may be of a culture that saw aggression as the solution to conflict, so in their eyes their child was just defending himself.
  • Among the middle-class, the reasoning was more complex: both parents tended to be working full-time, so they over-compensated for their absence by "loving" their child to the Nth degree. This would be the opposite of the above parent<>teacher dynamic: the parents would regard themselves as above the teacher, who was trying to drag their child down to her level, or simply wasn't intellectually equipped to deal with such a special bundle of genius and joy. On one occasion my mother was told by a lawyer father: "be generous to my son. I have very good ears".
  • Alternatively, there would be middle-class families with the father working and the mother at home in the traditional role. In this case, the mother perceived that her life revolved entirely around her child, who therefore had to be perfect, because any criticism was a criticism of the mother's entire being. (Evidence that everyone needs a range of interests and activities in order to have a proper sense of perspective.)
  • A third reason why middle-class parents let their children run riot, and this is one I've surmised myself so might not be true, could be that they are more prey to the torrent of parenting advice and paranoid about being good parents. As such, they are always worrying that they're not being good parents, and they think the best evidence one way or the other is whether their child is "happy".
In each of these cases, it is easy to see how poor discipline could result.

I have been inspired to start this thread by reading this article:

Logan Steed was expelled from school after stealing fruit, throwing school equipment and hitting, biting and punching pupils and staff.

But the final straw came when Logan was sitting on a chair and kicked his teacher in the face as she bent over.

His parents, who are separated, say he is an "angel" at home and claim the school has "thrown him on the scrap heap" rather than give him the special attention he needs.


And is it just me or can you tell from the boy's face in this photo that he is devious and manipulative?

Image
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Podori » 31 Dec 2012, 00:00

I've seen children make faces like that before... my two younger half-brothers. When you see a child pulling the mischievous half-grin that 'angel' Logan is wearing, you can be certain of one thing: he needs a caning yesterday.

Or as my Liverpudlian mother who left school with one O-level would say: "I'll give ya a lickin'!" And I got several when I was growing up.

Elliott, your post summarises why I would never become a teacher. As much as I have come to love teaching in South Korea, where education is valued and children more or less manageable, to do the same job in Britain would be a waking nightmare. Parents, many of whom were badly educated themselves in wrecked state schools, simply don't set boundaries; the consequence is that children grow up feral. That's the commonality that I notice in your comparisons of parents from different classes. One excuse follows another, but at the heart of the matter is the absence of the parents from their child's moral development.

But in Logan's defence, I have to admit that he is only acting rationally. He understands the concept of authority - clearly - and he is asserting his own because, for all he knows, he should do. His aggression receives praise, so he becomes more aggressive. Look at the picture of Logan with his parents again and you know who the master of the house is. Solution: Logan's weak parents need to give him a reminder, from time to time, that he is not. I recommend a wooden cane or drumstick. Plastic rulers are also acceptable.

People used to have the common decency of keeping their family chaos in the home, but now teachers must bear the brunt of it. Small wonder the attrition rate among recent PGCE graduates is so high.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Gavin » 31 Dec 2012, 00:55

Podori, you may be interested in this post.

I think I'm against corporal punishment for children in cases like this. I would reserve it for the parents. I think the way parents behave in decent families (what very few there are now) instils respect in children in most cases, meaning corporal punishment is not needed.

I certainly believe many children are malevolent though - it can be clearly seen from their actions and from the expressions on their faces. They grow into malevolent adults. It's at that point that society could take a very firm hand with them.

Incidentally, the more I have thought about this the more sure I am that many people do not actually want there to be lower crime - too many diversity, social work and legal jobs depend on there being crime. Otherwise I believe crime rates could actually be lowered almost to zero very quickly. Where there's a will there's a way. There just isn't a will among those who rule us and those who benefit from the dysfunction.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Podori » 31 Dec 2012, 01:28

Gavin wrote:Incidentally, the more I have thought about this the more sure I am that many people do not actually want there to be lower crime - too many diversity, social work and legal jobs depend on there being crime. Otherwise I believe crime rates could actually be lowered almost to zero very quickly. Where there's a will there's a way. There just isn't a will among those who rule us and those who benefit from the dysfunction.


Bullseye! Exactly on target.

There are many countries with crime rates lower than those in Britain and imitating their criminal justice policies would be a simple matter for British politicians if they took the matter of crime seriously.

In South Korea I can leave my windows open and my doors unlocked, and go out to shop at the local market after dark, without worrying about teenage assailants wielding knives, or worse, and demanding my wallet. Violent crime is so rare here that most people go their whole lives not even knowing someone who has become a victim of crime; can the same be said for the British?

And I did read your post, Gavin. Very interesting. Logan is probably a child like those you described, simply adjusting to a toxic social situation. That does not excuse kicking his teacher in the face, but maybe I did need a wider perspective in terms of seeing how adults set the example. I recall some awful teachers at my Canadian middle school, and this was in a white collar, middle class neighborhood. What was so awful about it, you ask? Well, one of our teachers, who taught English and drama, used to come to school wearing unwashed hair and old sneakers. He was known to lift his shirt and scratch his very unattractive abdomen in public. He also gave half-drunk bottles of cola to students and punctuated his spoken sentences with eructation. He was seen as the "cool teacher" by many adolescent students, because he acted like one of them. Such people populate the teaching profession in increasing numbers and no doubt influence how children like Logan come to brush off adult authority.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Paul » 31 Dec 2012, 02:00

He has a look of 'Damien', from the first Omen film!

I like Podori's post. A caning yesterday indeed. The instruments of correction mentioned too.

Gavin is harsh. He would cane the parents! I can see where you are coming from but to be honest I feel a little sorry for the parents (by this stage). Imagine what they are enduring, though they are of course the architects of their own downfall. They look plaintively like decent people, certainly not aggressive, nor thieves nor anti-social themselves. They are fools though, yet themselves have been poorly indoctrinated.

You are correct with the last statement. The last thing the whole bloated apparatus of the judicial system wants is a reduction in clientele. Exactly the same scenario exists in the 'drug-addiction industry', a point which TD often and strongly mentions in his writings on that subject. The same with all the other foolishness too, such as racism and feminism, etc. They need victims and a continuous state of conflict. A resolution to their supposed ills would remove their raison d'etre, not that they wouldn't swiftly find another 'cause' to champion instead.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Maxwell » 31 Dec 2012, 11:44

Elliott wrote:And is it just me or can you tell from the boy's face in this photo that he is devious and manipulative?

I suspect you're seeing what the Telegraph wants you to see.

The photograph is composed to show the child as dominant. The boy is at the centre and, having a white shirt and paler complexion, is slightly brighter than the parents.

If you look at the picture again but cover up the parents, the implied heirarchy is removed and the child appears far less malevolent. The fact that he's smiling, despite being accused of mischievous and violent behaviour, invites the assumption that he is gleeful and lacking in remorse, but it may simply be that the photographer asked him to smile at that moment. It would be interesting to see all the exposures from the session.

It's unwise to make character judgements based on a single pic. The medium is too easily manipulated.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Podori » 31 Dec 2012, 13:54

Maxwell wrote:I suspect you're seeing what the Telegraph wants you to see.

The photograph is composed to show the child as dominant. The boy is at the centre and, having a white shirt and paler complexion, is slightly brighter than the parents.

If you look at the picture again but cover up the parents, the implied heirarchy is removed and the child appears far less malevolent. The fact that he's smiling, despite being accused of mischievous and violent behaviour, invites the assumption that he is gleeful and lacking in remorse, but it may simply be that the photographer asked him to smile at that moment. It would be interesting to see all the exposures from the session.

It's unwise to make character judgements based on a single pic. The medium is too easily manipulated.


Fair points, all. I read your post and looked at the photo again. Logan's mother does seem to cock her head affectedly and gaze at the camera a little more vacantly than natural. His father's face suggests total emotional disengagement. Logan riles up the reader because he animates the frame with his devilish grin - a grin which I find unmistakeable as I've seen it many times.

But what does it say about the hierarchy of this family that the two parents agreed to be photographed flanking their child above an article full of their excuses for his misconduct? It's not an implied hierarchy at all, if you ask me.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Gavin » 31 Dec 2012, 14:20

Excuse me if I go off on a bit of a tangent here, but that family look positively upper class compared with most I see in my area. You really have to see it to believe it. Nearly every man has a shaven head, usually with tattoos on it. Children all wear tracksuits, all look like "thugs in training". Spitting, swearing and threatening behaviour are commonplace.

I have said before that the supermarkets give the impression that the prisons have simply opened their doors at let everybody spill out into society. I'm not sure I have seen a single truly civilised looking person. I suppose I live in a "deprived" area (though I do not actually accept that word) but I just want to relay what it is actually like. I actually live among the underclass at least for the moment, as if on some kind of safari, so I believe I know a lot more than the likes of Polly Toynbee does about them. In my opinion all incentives for them to have children should be removed as a matter of priority. They are making society a horrible place.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Maxwell » 31 Dec 2012, 16:09

Podori wrote:But what does it say about the hierarchy of this family that the two parents agreed to be photographed flanking their child above an article full of their excuses for his misconduct? It's not an implied hierarchy at all, if you ask me.


The photograph has been used in this forum to imply that the child is a malign and dominant presence in the "family" (the parents have separate homes), and that the parents deny the child's actions at school. I suggest this to be unfair and irresponsible.

We are talking about a story in a newspaper. From my own encounters with the press, and those of others close to me, I've learnt to be wary of judging such stories by first impression or at face value. Facts are subject to selection and statements often misquoted.

The underlying story seems to be that the child has been excluded from school for violent and uncontrollable behaviour and the parents, although defending him, acknowledge that he needs "special attention". They did not baulk at seeking professional help from psychologists. Their complaint is that the school cannot provide the level of care the child appears to need. The Telegraph, it seems to me, have chosen to portray the child as a face-kicking brat whose parent are unwilling to accept it, and the article - especially the heading - is firmly slanted toward this.

If anyone is being manipulative it is, as usual, the media.

According to the article, which I hope all who have contributed have read in full, the parents have at no point denied that the child has behaved badly at school, but merely stated that he is well behaved at home (or rather "homes"). For all we know this may be true. So, on what grounds is this a case of "They can do no wrong"? If the topic had been titled "Unreasonable expectations of the education system" or "Behaviour problems of children with separated parents" then it may have been more justified.

If we value truth over expediency, we must take care not to surf upon surmise.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Podori » 31 Dec 2012, 16:57

Maxwell wrote:The photograph has been used in this forum to imply that the child is a malign and dominant presence in the "family" (the parents have separate homes), and that the parents deny the child's actions at school. I suggest this to be unfair and irresponsible.

We are talking about a story in a newspaper. From my own encounters with the press, and those of others close to me, I've learnt to be wary of judging such stories by first impression or at face value. Facts are subject to selection and statements often misquoted.

The underlying story seems to be that the child has been excluded from school for violent and uncontrollable behaviour and the parents, although defending him, acknowledge that he needs "special attention". They did not baulk at seeking professional help from psychologists. Their complaint is that the school cannot provide the level of care the child appears to need. The Telegraph, it seems to me, have chosen to portray the child as a face-kicking brat whose parent are unwilling to accept it, and the article - especially the heading - is firmly slanted toward this.

If anyone is being manipulative it is, as usual, the media.

According to the article, which I hope all who have contributed have read in full, the parents have at no point denied that the child has behaved badly at school, but merely stated that he is well behaved at home (or rather "homes"). For all we know this may be true. So, on what grounds is this a case of "They can do no wrong"? If the topic had been titled "Unreasonable expectations of the education system" or "Behaviour problems of children with separated parents" then it may have been more justified.

If we value truth over expediency, we must take care not to surf upon surmise.


What you say is quite reasonable. No doubt the press has its machinations that we must guard against. We should be wary. I confess that I regret how much I agree with your sentiment, as it implies pervasive media dishonesty.

But I could grant that the whole story of Logan's family is sensational hogwash and it would not change two trends that I find worrying: (1) the seeming increase in parents who are reluctant to discipline their children and (2) the spread of the therapeutic approach to child discipline.

Logan's parents, as portrayed by the Telegraph, may be caricatures of their true selves, but they give us pause for sober reflection. They have indeed never denied that he has behaved badly. Is this because they want to ignore the brutish behaviour of a child whom they would rather call an angel? For whatever slant the newspaper put on this story it may be fact that Logan is a face-kicking brat. He did, after all, kick a teacher in the face in an act of astonishing temerity.

His parents consulted psychologists, but upon what grounds should we think that this was efficacious? If Logan's parents really think that psychology holds the answers to their child problems then it could be - by a ratio of likelihood weighted toward probably - that they would like to attribute his misbehaviour to a psychological malfunction over a disciplinary deficit. It's precisely the pattern they would follow if they were weak authority figures who needed advice - or validation - from an expert to compensate for their faults. Maybe the psychologist does more for them than for Logan. I cannot prove my speculations; I can only say that I have observed the same before (and I have seen it proceed to its worst possible outcome: to a psychologically normal but indulged child being prescribed psychiatric medication for a problem of self-control that was misdiagnosed as a mental disorder - basically a spoilt brat on Ritalin).

For these reasons I suspect that Logan fits into the category of children who are declared to be incapable of wrongdoing. His parents are acting like you would expect if they were trying to hush up their child's gross indiscipline. It wouldn't be the first time mummy and daddy have lied to excuse their offspring.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Elliott » 31 Dec 2012, 19:23

I agree with Maxwell that we should be careful about believing the media's word on anything, and also that a story like this could be told in a manipulative fashion. I also accept that the photo could have been posed deliberately by the photographer to suggest that Logan is in charge of his parents.

What I do not accept is that the expression on Logan's face could have been orchestrated by the photographer. That is a manipulative, devious, dishonest and controlling child - I would be prepared to bet money on it.

You say I am being unfair and irresponsible using him as an example case. That could be true, especially given that I have never met the child and know only what the Telegraph have chosen to tell me. But, based on the expression on his face alone, I am confident that I know exactly what that boy is like.

Also, as Podori summarised, the article gives enough pointers that the parents are out of their depth. The mother in particular looks considerably less intelligent than the boy. I imagine that their son's behaviour has floored them and flummoxed them, so they have assumed it is something complex and bizarre that can only be solved by "magic" psychology and so on - when in fact simple discipline would have done the trick, and is in fact probably the only thing that would do the trick.

I predict that Logan will manipulate his parents throughout his childhood, playing them off against each other, be spoiled rotten, always get his way in the end, and go through a succession of psychologists whom he will use to continually give his parents false hopes... when all he actually needs is a father with a backbone - which, again, it is plainly obvious from the photo he does not have.

I salute your caution, and fully acknowledge that the press can be misleading and so on, but I think in this case the situation is so obvious that even the press couldn't put a positive tint on it.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Podori » 01 Jan 2013, 03:23

I will expand on some points.

Elliott wrote:I agree with Maxwell that we should be careful about believing the media's word on anything, and also that a story like this could be told in a manipulative fashion.


Hear, hear!

You say I am being unfair and irresponsible using him as an example case. That could be true, especially given that I have never met the child and know only what the Telegraph have chosen to tell me.


Sad thing is, the story is all too plausible to be discounted.

I imagine that their son's behaviour has floored them and flummoxed them, so they have assumed it is something complex and bizarre that can only be solved by "magic" psychology and so on - when in fact simple discipline would have done the trick, and is in fact probably the only thing that would do the trick.


Dare I say that they don't know what they're doing? Parents like this try to explain away their deficient child-rearing skills by appealing to authority. The psychologist could be meeting their emotional needs more than Logan's.

I predict that Logan will manipulate his parents throughout his childhood, playing them off against each other, be spoiled rotten, always get his way in the end, and go through a succession of psychologists whom he will use to continually give his parents false hopes...


Actually, it could get even worse. As I alluded to before, Logan could join the ranks of children who have been unnecessarily prescribed psychiatric medication to calm them down - essentially, alter their brain chemistry to render them more compliant. He could grow up dependent on medication as a behavioural panacaea when in fact all he needed was a stern reminder of the boundaries of acceptable conduct. Some problems with this outcome: his adult relationships will be more difficult - as no sane woman wants a man who needs mental illness drugs. Logan the spoilt child may well be Logan the tragic drug addict someday.

when all he actually needs is a father with a backbone - which, again, it is plainly obvious from the photo he does not have.


Sons respect - and want - strong fathers. My boy students respect teachers who lay down the law once in a while. They like me most after I upbraid them in Korean. It's in their nature.

"No pain, no gain" goes the cutesy motto. My motto of child-rearing is "no cane, no gain." I would never be hired as an NHS child psychologist.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Heather » 06 Jan 2013, 22:26

I think that there may be some confusion on this thread about what discipline fundamentally is. It's not about spanking or "caning;" it's not even about consequences or consistency. That's how you train a dog or lab rat, not a human being. Discipline is first and foremost about the parents making themselves worthy of the authority vested in them, or "practising what they preach." This involves being good, moral people, and giving their children (disciples) a clear example to follow, mainly through their everyday actions, but also through their guiding words. Children are not little automatons bouncing off the walls and destroying things until punished; on the contrary there is a golden window during which children really, really want to impress Mommy and Daddy. Parents who take advantage of that window might find that their child needs very little physical punishment for the rest of childhood (depending on the child's personality). Parents who let the window go by or place their children into large peer groups such as daycare too early in life might find that it's nearly impossible to remedy the situation later on (again depending on personality). Only after the parents' proper actions is discipline about consistenly carrying out consequences, which may include spanking for more serious infractions.

I do indeed recognize the look on that child's face - it's exactly like my younger sister. I don't wish to denigrate my parents too much (they're certainly not bad people), but they did not set a clear moral example (or perhaps I should say that they set a clearly immoral example but held us children to moral standards), they let bad behavior slide, and they enforced consequences (including spanking) haphazardly. From this my sister learned to hold authority in contempt, so is it any wonder that she's in and out of jail and psychiatric offices? This is a girl who was indeed spanked often, which is why I stand by the paragraph I wrote above: the only difference in our upbringing was that when I was in the "golden window" stage, my very moral grandmother was a large influence in my life, and she was too old to have much of an affect during my sister's "golden window."
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Gavin » 06 Jan 2013, 23:06

Podori wrote:"No pain, no gain" goes the cutesy motto. My motto of child-rearing is "no cane, no gain." I would never be hired as an NHS child psychologist.


I do not think that "no pain, no gain" is a "cutesy motto". It has some sense to it: it means that without hard labour and effort, not much is often gained.

Second, you suggest that "caning" is generally necessary for children to achieve or behave. I don't accept that at all, and agree far more with Heather's analysis.
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Re: They can do no wrong

Postby Paul » 07 Jan 2013, 01:30

Gavin wrote:

I do not think that "no pain, no gain" is a "cutesy motto". It has some sense to it: it means that without hard labour and effort, not much is often gained.

Second, you suggest that "caning" is generally necessary for children to achieve or behave. I don't accept that at all, and agree far more with Heather's analysis.


'No pain, no gain' is most commonly referred to in the matter of excercising or physical training in my experience. It's a mantra to oneself.

Caning - or something similar and additional torments: I think it depends upon the child, by which I really mean, in traditional circumstances, the boy. I don't mean it should be a tradition, in and of itself of course. I mean when boys were boys (not girls) and girls were girls!

I don't quite know how it should be approached today, with regard to increased girl unrulyness, by which I mean violence.

Some boys though - they need caning! Most boys need clips around the earholes and the odd shaking and prodding. Cutting down to size was the old term. I needed the odd clip and the occasional shaking. I was pretty well behaved but I had a mischievous streak that needed managing. So it was and the whole business amuses me now. Nobody I know who remembers school days is anything but amused at the wheezes we attempted and then the whackings we got as a result or even the minor infractions that resulted in some sort of torment, often physical.

The boys who got whacked the most were the ones who needed it the most. Fittingly, they were the one who could handle it the most. Strong-willed boys have a life of knocks and sprains and bruises. The odd whacking is nothing.
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