No Fear: A Police Officer's Perspective
By Police Detective Robert Surgenor
“It took the help of five other police officer to assist me in getting the handcuffs on the fifteen-year-old boy who had just broken his mother’s nose, knocked his father to the floor, and thrown a table through the front window. As I compiled the information for the report, the mother indicated that they had lost control of the boy at an early age. Time-outs and groundings just never worked. When I asked the mother if they had ever tried spanking the boy when he defied their authority, she replied angrily ‘We don’t believe in spanking. Violence begets violence!’ I wondered if she realized how foolish she sounded.”
When Detective Robert R. Surgenor wrote those words in the introduction of his book No Fear, A Police Officer’s Perspective, he had no idea that so many people agreed with his theory that children that are never spanked by their parents grow up to be defiant. Since the book was released in January of 2000, the response by the public has been overwhelmingly positive. Appearing on numerous television shows including local news programs, MS-NBC, and the Dr. Laura television show, Surgenor has begun to realize that most people believe that spanking is a viable form of child discipline, they were just afraid to say it until someone else did. On one television poll, the results showed that 99 percent of the viewing audience agreed with the detective. Only one percent disagreed!
No Fear is loaded with statistics and information. Surgenor points out how violent juvenile crime is exploding in the United States. He substantiates his claim with figures taken directly from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. In the chapter titled Kids and Crime, he writes,
“The UCR released on September 28, 1997, shows that murder and nonnegligent manslaughter has been reduced by 3.7 percent over the past ten years. The rate of murders committed by children seventeen years of age and younger has increased during the same period by 50.5 percent. Between 1985 and 1995, murders committed by children increased by 150 percent. This type of statistic should activate all kinds of alarms. There seems to be the same trend in other crime categories also. During the same ten-year period, robberies committed by adults has been reduced by 3.2 percent, while robberies committed by children has increased by 57.4 percent. Arson, the crime of intentionally setting fire to the property of others, has been reduced amongst adults by 17.1 percent, while it has increased amongst children by 35.9 percent. Carrying or possessing weapons amongst adults dropped 9/10 of one percent, while increasing 69.5 percent amongst children.”
Surgenor points out that these facts alone do not prove that the reduction in spanking has resulted in an increase in juvenile crime, but he does point out one glaring fact that he uses to argue his case quite well. In the same chapter, he writes,
“One of the most disturbing figures from the Uniform Crime Report is the section on offenses against family, including domestic violence offenses committed by the youngsters in the family. Thirty years ago, arrests of children for assaulting their parents was almost unheard of. During the past fifteen years, there has been a steady increase in children abusing their parents. In 1983, the UCR showed a total of 1,120 arrests of juveniles for domestic violence. By 1995, it had risen to 2,177 cases. In 1991, there were a total of 2,523 children arrested for domestic violence. In 1994, it was 3,743 cases, and in 1996, it had increased to 4,400. Another tremendous jump occurred in 1997 – up to 5,018 cases. In the short period of fifteen years, there has been a 348 percent increase in children committing domestic violence offenses.”
Surgenor points out that a statistic that is even more glaring is gathered from his own research. In his city, Surgenor conducts a lengthy investigation in every case where a child physically attacks mom or dad. Included in the information Surgenor pursues is what type of discipline every one of those violent kids received during their upbringing. What he has found is that only 1.9 percent of all children who physically attack their parents have ever received any type of corporal punishment for misbehavior. Less than two percent of these violent kids have ever been spanked! Surgenor contends that children who are never spanked grow up without any fear of authority. No fear of their parents. No fear of their teachers. No fear of the police or the judge. No fear of God.
No Fear, A Police Officer’s Perspective also approaches child rearing from a Biblical standpoint. Surgenor is amazed at the attempts by the non-spanking advocate to discredit the Bible. So-called child rearing “experts” like Murray Straus and Irwin Hyman try to convince their readers that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. They refer to the “rod” in Biblical text as “loving guidance, not physical discipline of the child. In the chapter titled The Bible, Surgenor writes,
“The non-spanking advocate will attempt to refer to the rod meaning a stick or a staff, such as used by shepherds. God says in Proverbs 29:15, ‘The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.’ Now then, let’s be fair. If the rod means loving guidance as the non-spanking advocate suggests, where does the word reproof fit in? I’m afraid that the reproof is verbal and the rod is physical. God would not have mentioned both words in the same verse if they meant the same thing.”
The appendix of No Fear also includes the child abuse laws from all fifty states. Surgenor believes that if a parent is aware of their authority and disciplines their child within the legal boundaries set by law, the child’s perception of the parent’s authority is changed, and compliance results. He writes, “A parent must know the limit of his or her power to avoid exceeding it, and the extent of the power to exercise it fully.” This book should arm parents with that knowledge.