Then and Now; June 26, 2019

When I attended Fairview School, there was one teacher (name forgotten) whose main talent was administering corporal punishment. To this day I have not forgotten the harm that it caused and the humiliation it brought. The practice encouraged other students to lie to get classmates punished. There was one young girl (name remembered) who would say “You can’t make my lickings hurt.” The teacher would whack her again.

For my freshman year in high school, by choice, I attended the Holy Cross Abbey School for boys in Canon City, Co. The school was a project of the Benedictine Priests. The discipline was administered by brute force. Corporal punishment and hazing were a constant twenty-four hour a day possibility. It was survival of the fittest. Father Lake Hollenback did his best to cushion the humiliation. Unfortunately, he was in the minority. Fortunately, I moved myself out of the situation after two years. Holy Cross Abbey ceased to exist as a high school in 2006. It is now Holy Cross Winery.

When Ethan was born, I had a few absolutes. The first absolute was that there would be NO corporal punishment, nor would there be punishment by humiliation. As soon as Ethan was old enough to understand, he was told that no such punishments would happen. We were, and are, a family of three. Although we are multigenerational, our relationships are built on respect.

In the recent California legislative session, a bill was introduced to outlaw all forms of corporal punishment for children. I believe California was the first state in the nation to consider such a law. It did not succeed. I believe it will be introduced again.

Those who inflict corporal punishment believe that they are taking control. In reality they are losing control. In my experiences I have never been able to gain control by losing control. I respect the beliefs of folks who disagree. I understand the arguments of those who say, “I was physically punished, and I grew up OK.” I simply disagree.


John Wasserburger

PO Box 14

Capitola, CA 95010