He who opens a school closes a prison. Victor Hugo (1802-1885)—French poet and novelist

AS LYNN HEADED out to go shopping, she already knew her 4-year-old son was in a bad mood. All that day he had been doing all that he could to frus-trate her. First, he chose not to eat breakfast, and then he spilled apple juice all over the carpet. He categorically refused to put on his red jacket and continuously tried to unbuckle his seatbelt in the car. Since they had arrived at the shopping mall, he had been whining continuously for 20 minutes and demanding they go to the toy store immediately. e mother’s patience nally ran out when her son ran away and started picking up coins from the fountain. Lynn pulled him out of the fountain and spanked him three or four times. e son reacted rst with a brief and silent pause of embarrassment and then lled the shopping mall with a high-pitched scream. A couple of crystal tears rolled down his cheeks. “is is horrible. You cannot treat your child like this,” a woman passerby said loudly as she pointed at Lynn. “You shouldn’t do that, ma’am,” uttered another woman. “At least not in a public place.” Lynn could not understand why these strangers reacted in this way. She had arrived two years ago, as a Cambodian refugee, and thus far had had nothing critical said to her. What had she done to upset these people? Traditional Cambodian child-rearing practices allow spanking. Moreover, this type of physical punishment is a major component of the child’s learning process in her home country, where parental authority in the family is seldom challenged. e extended family, the local community, and the Buddhist religion condone discipline in the family. A study found that more than 50 percent of Southeast Asian parents reported having used physical punishment on their children at some point (Tajima & Harachi, 2010). However, the same study found that, among immigrant families, education and experience living in the United States were associated with decreased spanking of children. Globally, auence and education are presumed to change parental attitudes toward the use of physical force against their children. Perhaps an open competition of ideas associated with greater education leads to more parents viewing spanking as an ineective method of discipline. Upon traveling and speaking with parents from around the world, one oen hears parents sigh with nostalgia, reminiscing upon more traditional times during which children were more “disciplined” and complaining about how parents no longer punish their kids. One parent even suggested that what children these days lack is “fear”: e fear that physical punishment impresses upon a child’s soul is good for the child’s character. Which do you think is good for a child’s character development: an overly permissive parent; an overly authoritarian parent; or something in between?