Ask the Experts: Questions Answered with Spanking Researcher Phil Davis

For more than two decades, Georgia State University professors Phillip Davis has studied corporal punishment as a form of discipline in the home. Today, you can find him in his office atop a downtown Atlanta high-rise, nestled in a mountain of books, research papers and students’ work that seems nearly as tall as the building. Through his largely survey- and interview- based research, Davis has taken a variety of approaches to assessing the dynamic of spanking, slapping, whipping and other forms of corporal punishment within American households. “Nine out of 10 people have done it, and nine out of 10 adults got it when they were kids in one way or another,” Davis said. “ Most who use it grew up with it, so it’s all very normal — as in ancient history.”

And, in fact, corporal punishment is a practice that dates back to ancient history in varying forms, but the ancient practice has been coming under some very modern scrutiny.

How Safe Are Georgia’s Youth Detention Facilities?

The beating death this week of 19-year-old inmate Jade Holder at an Augusta, Ga., Youth Development Campus (YDC) is the latest in a series of incidents that have renewed focus on safety levels within Georgia youth detention facilities. Last week, for the second time in six months, county police were called on to quell a riot at the DeKalb County Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC). In May, a murder suspect escaped from the DeKalb RYDC, only to be found and returned a few days later. And in July, the Eastman YDC was the scene of a fight that led to an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). These incidents have all come after an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over implementing changes at the facilities, something that was supposed to improve and stabilize the system.

Prison and the Crucial Role of Nonviolent Communication

I saw a lot of violence during my years in prison in Georgia. Most of the time, however, this violence happened because of miscommunication. Rumors about what one guy had said about another, or allegations of some misconduct such as stealing, would lead to a confrontation. The accused would feel trapped into responding with violence. The culture was attuned to respect, and instances of disrespect were seen as reasonable grounds for hitting someone, or at least threatening them.

Georgia D.A.: Bullying May Lead to Life of Crime

Bullies may not have committed any crimes while bullying, but officials in one south Georgia county say bullying may lead to a life of crime. Dougherty County, Ga., District Attorney Greg Edwards told The Albany (Ga.) Herald that, while there is no specific crime for bullying, “about 25 percent of cases we come across relate to bullying to some extent.” Edwards went on to say he believes bullies often, “start in juvenile court and graduate to more serious crimes.”

According to Dougherty County’s juvenile prosecutor, Andre Ewings, those crimes can vary greatly. “It can be almost anything,” she told The Herald. “It can be a simple battery to as serious as an aggravated assault. It may also be terroristic threats.” Today, much of that bullying is done online through social networking sites like Facebook. Ewings also said she believes bullies tend to get in more trouble than other children.

Fight at Georgia YDC Causes Injuries, Prompts Investigation

“Significant” injuries were reported after a fight Saturday in the Eastman Youth Development Center in Eastman, Ga. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the incident. Todd Lowery, assistant special agent in charge of GBI’s Eastman field office, told The Macon Telegraph, “There was some violence against some of the staff and some of the detainees.”

The GBI has not determined what caused the fight, although several youth were involved.  According to a Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice press release, one detainee was sent to a an outside medical facility for treatment. Lowery told The Telegraph he didn’t know how severe the injuries were, but he said, “some of the injuries were significant.”

 

Massachusetts Bill Targets Assaults within Juvenile Facilities

Massachusetts lawmakers are outraged following reports that the state’s Department of Youth Services (DYS) refuses to report assaults on staffers by juvenile offenders. A new bill before the Legislature could change all that, according to a report by the Boston Herald. The measure would require  DYS officials to report all assaults on staff members to prosecutors or state law enforcement in order to pursue charges. State Rep. Thomas Golden (D), the author of the legislation, said DYS officials have even tried to convince staff members not to report violent assaults to police. A spokeswoman for the agency said they were not aware of any such instances.

Grant Works to Prevent Kids’ Exposure to Violence

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention is offering a grant for the Defending Childhood Technical Assistance program. This project provides support to prevent and reduce the effects of kid’s exposure to violence. The deadline for this grant is July 11, 2011 at 11:59 P.M. E.S.T.

 

Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Sale of Violent Video Games to Children

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday struck down a California law banning the sale of violent video games to children in a 7-to-2 decision.  The majority opinion in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, equated video game content with that of books and films.

“Like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas — and even social messages — through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world),” Justice Scalia wrote. “That suffices to confer First Amendment protection.”

Justice Scalia wrote that violence in literature and art have never been subject to government regulation. “Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for example, are grim indeed,” he wrote. The California law defined violent video games as “patently offensive” when “the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering or sexually assaulting an image of a human being” and lacked “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. Stores that sold violent video games to minors would have been subject to $1,000 fines.

Fighting Gang Violence with Research and Empirical Evidence

ORLANDO, Fla, – Frontline practitioners working on gang prevention, intervention and suppression are gathered this week for the National Gang Symposium in Orlando, Fla. For prevention, think of the Boys & Girls Club. For intervention, think of the Los Angeles-based Homeboy Industries, whose motto is “nothing stops a bullet like a job.” And for suppression, well, of course, think of the police. The number crunchers from the National Gang Center, using their own just released data, are telling symposium attendees today that gangs remain a substantial problem in the nation. However, gang levels are lower than the peak levels in the mid-1990s, and law enforcement agencies reported gang activity in their jurisdictions at about the same levels for five straight years – all this during a time when overall violence is way down.

Grant Supports Men Who Oppose Violence Against Kids

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Office on Violence Against Woman is offering the Engaging Men in Preventing Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking Program. This Program assists the movement to end violence against women by including men. A recent national poll indicated that 73 percent of men feel they can help reduce domestic violence and sexual assault. This is the first program that supports projects that help raise awareness in the critical roles that men play in prevention of violence against women and girls. The aim is to help develop new male leaders who will speak and act to oppose violence against women. The deadline for this grant is June 30, 2011.