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Open Letter to the State of Virginia

Doris Jenkins
Child Welfare Licensing
Virginia Department of Social Services

Dear Ms. Jenkins,

As I look back over my childhood, and think back to the spankings I received from my mother, what I most vividly remember is the emotional pain from being hurt by someone I trusted - someone I needed to trust. It is not the external marks, which quickly faded, but the internal marks - the diminished self-esteem, the lessened ability to trust in others and in life itself - that have stayed with me all these years. What have never faded are the feelings of anger, confusion and betrayal that I felt when the person I most loved and trusted deliberately hurt me. It made no sense to me then. It makes no sense to me now.

I am not a religious person, but the Bible says it best: "Love is patient and kind." (1 Corinthians 13:4) Spanking is neither patient, nor kind, and doesn't work anyway. It only appears to work, but only in the most short-term and superficial ways, and at a great cost to the child, and to the parent-child relationship.

The most important role for a parent is to be someone their child can fully trust, someone the child can always count on to be on their side. If the parent isn't on their side, who will be? There is no way to accomplish this critical task if physical punishment is a part of this picture. From a larger perspective, it is just plain wrong for one human being to hurt another human being. As psychologist John Valusek wrote, "People are not for hitting, and children are people too."

I've seen the beautiful Virginia state seal, with a goddess standing over a defeated despot, and the state motto, "Sic Semper Tyrannis," ("Thus Always to Tyrants") - a compelling symbol for progress over tyranny. Spanking a child is a tyrant's act. Please do not set the lovely state of Virginia on a backward path toward the insanity of hurting children. Be bold! Choose progress over tyranny for all of your citizens; protect all of your citizens, young and old.


Jan Hunt, M.Sc., Director
The Natural Child Project