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1091 Punishing Children

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,091 – Punishing Children.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,091. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California [singing].

Go to our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast. Take a look at our ESL Podcast Special Courses, which you can download immediately – no waiting. As soon as you buy them, you can download the audio files and written materials.

This episode is a dialogue between Yuki and Al about what to do when your children misbehave – when they don’t do what they’re supposed to do – and you have to punish them. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Yuki: What are you doing?

Al: I’m getting ready to give Charlie a spanking for beating up his classmate. He has to learn that there are serious consequences for his actions.

Yuki: You’re punishing him for beating someone by giving him a beating? That doesn’t make sense. Our response shouldn’t be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Al: I’m not going to beat him. This isn’t going to be a flogging. I’m going to give him a simple spanking.

Yuki: Corporal punishment isn’t the answer. We can give him a severe punishment without resorting to violence.

Al: What kind of punishment? Withholding his allowance or taking away his toys? Those don’t seem severe enough to me.

Yuki: We could ground him for a month, only allowing him to go to school.

Al: That still doesn’t seem to be enough.

Yuki: All right, we can pull out the big guns then. We could have him spend the weekend with your mother and ask her to talk some sense into him. He’s scared of your mother.

Al: I’m scared of my mother. Do you think it would work?

Yuki: If I were a 10-year-old and I had to face your angry and disapproving mother for an entire weekend, I’d be quaking in my boots!

[end of dialogue]

Yuki begins our dialogue by asking Al, “What are you doing?” Al says, “I’m getting ready to give Charlie a spanking for beating up his classmate.” A “spanking” (spanking) is the practice of hitting a child with your hand or some other object on the child’s behind, on the child’s rear, on their butt – the part they sit down on.

This has long been a traditional way of punishing a child, of indicating to the child that what they did was wrong and giving them something to think about if they try to do it again. I’m not arguing. I’m not saying spanking is right or wrong. I’m not a child psychologist. I can’t answer that question, but I can explain what the practice is, and it’s something that parents – at least, when I was growing up – would do to their children to discipline them, to punish them.

Al is getting ready to give Charlie a spanking “for beating up his classmate.” “To beat (beat) up” means to hurt someone physically in a fight. Charlie, it seems, beat up his classmate – another one of the students in his class at school. Yuki says, “You’re punishing him for beating someone up by giving him a beating?” “To punish” (punish), as we mentioned earlier, means to do something to someone to discourage them from doing it again, or simply out of a sense of philosophical justice.

Once again, we won’t go into the arguments about punishment. Yuki says that Al is punishing Charlie for beating someone up, for hitting someone, by hitting Charlie. She thinks this is not very logical. In fact, she says, “That doesn’t make sense. Our response shouldn’t be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

This expression, which comes from the Bible, means that you respond to someone who does something bad to you by doing something equally bad to him or her. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” might mean literally “If you take out my eye, I’ll take out your eye.” But in general, the term means getting back at someone or getting even with someone by doing something bad to that person who did something bad to you.

Al says, “I’m not going to beat him. This isn’t going to be a flogging.” A “flogging” (flogging) is a very serious physical punishment where someone is usually hit with a stick or a rope, often on their back, as a punishment. There aren’t any places in the United States, at least, where you would get a flogging. In fact, you’d probably be arrested by the police if you gave your child a flogging.

Al is saying he’s not giving Charlie a flogging. He says instead, “I’m going to give him a simple spanking,” meaning not a serious spanking, not seriously hurting him. But Yuki doesn’t agree. Yuki says, “Corporal punishment isn’t the answer.” “Corporal” (corporal) refers to the body. So, “corporal punishment” is physical punishment – punishing someone’s body by hitting them, for example.

Yuki says, “We can give him,” meaning Charlie, “a severe punishment without resorting to violence.” A “severe (severe) punishment,” is a very strong punishment, a significant or major punishment. “Resorting to” something means turning to something or choosing to do something when you don’t have any other options available – at least, that’s what we typically use it to mean. “I had to resort to violence when the person on the street started attacking me.” I didn’t want to hit him but I had to. I had to resort to violence.

What Yuki is saying is that we don’t have to resort to violence. We have other choices. We can choose other ways of punishing little Charlie without hitting him. Al says, “What kind of punishment? Withholding his allowance or taking away his toys? That doesn’t seem severe enough to me.” “To withhold” (withhold) something means to prevent someone from having something, especially having something that the person expects to have.

“To withhold your love” would be not to give your love to someone who might be expecting your love. If the company you work for “withholds money” to pay your taxes, that’s money they don’t give you in order to do something with that money. And in fact, in the United States, if you are an employee, the company you work for will withhold taxes from you. Al is talking here about withholding Charlie’s “allowance” (allowance).

An “allowance” is money that is given to a child on a regular basis, often once a week or so, sometimes in exchange for or because the child does some work around the house, sometimes simply so that the child has the money to buy things with. When I was growing up, there were no allowances. In fact, even if you worked around the house – and you were expected to work around the house – you would not be given an allowance. I never heard of such a thing even for most of my friends, but it is quite popular among parents nowadays.

Al thinks that withholding his allowance or taking away his toys would not be a severe enough punishment for Charlie. Yuki says, “We could ground him for a month, only allowing him to go to school.” When a parent “grounds” (grounds) his or her child, the parent is punishing the child by not allowing him or her to leave the house and sometimes even to leave their room other than to come down and eat and to use the bathroom.

Usually, however, “grounding” refers to telling a child that he or she cannot go out and play with his or her friends – that he or she has to stay at home, other than of course going to school. But Al isn’t convinced. He says, “That still doesn’t seem to be enough.” He doesn’t think that’s a sufficient punishment to teach Charlie not to go around beating up his classmates.

Yuki says, “All right. We can pull out the big guns then.” The expression “to pull out the big guns” (guns) means to do the most powerful forceful thing you can do – to do something or to use some instrument or tool that is the most powerful you can possibly think of. In the case of punishing Charlie, Yuki says, “We could have him spend the weekend with your mother and ask her to talk some sense into him.”

Yuki is suggesting that Charlie spend the weekend with his grandmother, Al’s mother, and have his grandmother “talk some sense into him.” “To talk some sense (sense) into” someone means to persuade someone to agree to something, especially someone who doesn’t seem to be acting rationally or logically. To convince someone to change their way of thinking is to talk sense into someone.

Yuki says that Charlie is scared of Al’s mother. Al says, “I’m scared of my mother. Do you think it would work?” Yuki says, “If I were a 10-year-old boy and I had to face your angry and disapproving mother for an entire weekend, I’d be quaking in my boots.” “Disapproving” is when someone is not pleased with your behavior or your performance.

Yuki is saying here that if she were a 10-year-old boy like Charlie and she had to face – that is, to be with – Al’s angry and disapproving mother for an entire or complete weekend, she’d be “quaking in her boots.” “To quake (quake) in your boots (boots)” means to be very scared, to be very frightened. “Boots” are large pairs of shoes that go over your feet, especially when there is rain outside or snow outside. “To quake” here means to shake.

So, “to quake in your boots” would be to be so scared that you are shaking – your whole body is shaking – and that’s the idea that Yuki is trying to convey here: that going to Al’s mother’s house for the weekend would make the 10-year-old Charlie rather scared and would be a very severe punishment for him.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Yuki: What are you doing?

Al: I’m getting ready to give Charlie a spanking for beating up his classmate. He has to learn that there are serious consequences for his actions.

Yuki: You’re punishing him for beating someone by giving him a beating? That doesn’t make sense. Our response shouldn’t be an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Al: I’m not going to beat him. This isn’t going to be a flogging. I’m going to give him a simple spanking.

Yuki: Corporal punishment isn’t the answer. We can give him a severe punishment without resorting to violence.

Al: What kind of punishment? Withholding his allowance or taking away his toys? Those don’t seem severe enough to me.

Yuki: We could ground him for a month, only allowing him to go to school.

Al: That still doesn’t seem to be enough.

Yuki: All right, we can pull out the big guns then. We could have him spend the weekend with your mother and ask her to talk some sense into him. He’s scared of your mother.

Al: I’m scared of my mother. Do you think it would work?

Yuki: If I were a 10-year-old and I had to face your angry and disapproving mother for an entire weekend, I’d be quaking in my boots!

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter doesn’t withhold any English from you. She gives you all the English you need. Thank you, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
spanking – the practice of hitting a child on the bottom (rear) with one’s hand as a punishment for bad behavior

* Maritza gave her son a spanking for lying to her.

to beat up – to physically hurt someone in a fight in which one is the clear winner

* The police have noticed an increase in the number of instances where gang members beat up the members of other gangs.

consequences – something that results from something else, especially a negative result; what happens as a result of one’s actions or inaction

* The consequences of getting caught cheating on an exam include receiving a failing grade and/or being suspended or expelled from school.

to punish – to do something unpleasant to someone who has misbehaved, with the expectation that doing so will discourage the person from misbehaving again

* The judge punished the thief with a $450 fine and 30 hours of community service.

an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth – a phrase in the Bible meaning that one would respond to a harmful or damaging action with an equally harmful or damaging action

A: Wow, I can’t believe Shane broke your game. What are you going to do?

B: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I’m going to break his.

flogging – a serious punishment in which one is hurt by being beaten or hit with a stick or another hard object many times

* Public floggings were a common way to punish criminals in the past.

corporal punishment – physical punishment; a punishment that involves harming another person’s body, causing pain

* Teachers in public schools are not allowed to use corporal punishment against students, because it can be interpreted as a form of child abuse.

severe – major; significant; very strong and serious

* Meteorologists believe a severe storm will arrive tomorrow evening.

to resort to – to turn to something extreme or to choose to do something that one would rather not, when no other options are available

* If Lyle doesn’t find a job soon, they’ll have to resort to selling their home and moving in with his parents.

violence – physical harm to people and things, caused intentionally by other people

* Some schools have security guards who try to prevent violence by keeping an eye on the students and checking everyone for weapons.

to withhold – to not allow someone to have something; to refuse to give something to someone

* Employers are required by law to withhold some of their employees’ salary and wages for state and federal taxes.

allowance – money given to a child regularly, usually once a week, sometimes in exchange for chores and usually to teach the child to manage and spend money responsibly

* How old were your children when you started giving them a weekly allowance?

to ground (someone) – to punish a child or teenager by not allowing him or her to leave the house for any activities, other than to attend school, for a period of time

* Evelyn was grounded for one month, so she missed the school dance and wasn’t allowed to go to any of her friend’s homes.

to pull out the big guns – to bring all of one’s power or force to something; to do something in a big, forceful, powerful, and impressive way

* Nancy’s boss and his wife are coming over for dinner, so it’s time to pull out the big guns. We’re cooking some fancy food, opening an expensive bottle of wine, and using our best dishes and tablecloth.

to talk some sense into (someone) – to speak to someone logically and clearly to try to persuade him or her to do or agree with something; to make someone understand something and decide to behave rationally

* Please talk some sense into Becca so that she stays in school and earns her degree!

disapproving – not pleased with another person’s behavior or accomplishments; feeling sad because one believes that something should have been done better

* A parent’s disapproving attitude can make children think they never do anything right.

to quake in (one’s) boots – to be very scared or frightened, with one’s legs shaking

* That haunted house was so scary that we were quaking in our boots!

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these is not a type of corporal punishment?
a) A spanking
b) A flogging
c) A grounding

2. What would happen if the parents withheld his allowance?
a) They wouldn’t let him play with his friends.
b) They would make him do extra chores.
c) They would not give him spending money.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to beat up

The word “to beat up,” in this podcast, means to physically hurt someone in a fight in which one is the clear winner: “One of the other students beat up Phil and stole his lunch money.” The phrase “to beat the living daylights out of (someone)” means to beat up someone very badly, hurting them significantly: “How did someone beat the living daylights out of a person on a busy street in the middle of the day, and nobody noticed?” The phrase “to beat (someone)” also means to win a competition against another person: “The Wildcats beat the Fireballs with a score of 28 to 16.” Finally, the phrase “to beat (someone) to (something)” means to do something before another person could do it: “If you beat me to the restaurant, can you order appetizers?”

to ground

In this podcast, the phrase “to ground (someone)” means to punish a child or teenager by not allowing him or her to leave the house for any activities for a period of time: “When we were kids, if we didn’t do our chores, we were grounded for a week.” The phrase “to ground” can also mean to prohibit or prevent an airplane or pilot from flying: “All planes were grounded due to the poor weather conditions.” Finally, the phrase “to be grounded in (something)” means to be based or founded in something: “The U.S. government are grounded in the basic principles of ancient Greek democracy.” Or, “The teacher’s treatment of students is grounded in her belief of equal opportunity and fairness for everyone.”

Culture Note
Corporal Punishment in Schools

In the past, schoolteachers commonly used corporal punishment to punish students for bad behavior and to prevent other students from “committing similar offenses” (performing the same types of bad behavior). The teacher would “strike” (hit) a child’s hand or “buttocks” (bottom; rear) a “prescribed” (set; established) number of times, most often with a “ruler” (a hard, flat surface with numbers marked on it, used to measure how long something is), a “leather” (made from the skin of an animal) “strap” (a long piece of material), or a wooden “paddle” (a round, flat surface with a handle).

“Proponents” (people who think something is a good idea) of corporal punishment believe it provides an immediate reaction to a student’s bad behavior and allows the student to return to his or her studies quickly. But “opponents” believe that it is “tantamount to” (equivalent to; the same as) child abuse and that it teaches children to be violent toward others.

In modern times, the opponents of corporal punishment “have the upper hand” (are winning), and corporal punishment is illegal in the public schools in most states. However, corporal punishment is still legal in several states, primarily in the southeastern United States.

In general, corporal punishment is becoming less common, and when it is “administered” (used), specific rules “govern” (control) the number of strikes and the “implements” (tools) that may be used.

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - c