Naughty children given Tabasco treatment
By Marcus Warren in New York
The revival of an American practice of punishing children by sprinkling Tabasco sauce on their tongues has provoked debates on television shows and radio phone-ins.
It has exposed faultlines between the South, where it originates, and the North and between Christian and secular child care experts.
Lisa Whelchel, who recommends "hot saucing" in her book, Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline, said: "A correction has to hurt a little. I don't think Tabasco is such a bad thing. It stings for a while but it abates."
She said she used the treatment on her children between the ages of four and six.
"I prefer my child to receive a small amount of pain from my hand of love than to encounter a lot more pain in life."
She cited the Bible as an authority for the practice and said it achieved results.
Quoting from the Book of Proverbs, she said: "The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom but a perverse tongue will be cut out."
Supporters of hot saucing say it is effective in correcting lying, bad language, name-calling and answering back. They say it is more humane than smacking and washing mouths out with soap.
More orthodox child care specialists have been shocked by the revival of the practice, which has spread far beyond the South.
Dr Peter Tessler of St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Centre in Manhattan, said: "We don't use the belt any more; we don't use soap in the mouth any more; and we should not use hot sauce."
The state of Virginia has put hot saucing on a list of "bizarre behaviour", with other punishments such as forcing children to kneel on sharp gravel or locking them in a closet.
A child care centre in Michigan was sanctioned two years ago for using the practice on an 18-month-old boy, apparently with the permission of his mother. He had been biting other children.
And to think, in the Michigan case it hurts a little, the parent allowed for it, and the child needed some discpline. But, sanctioned anyway.
Talk about worshipping children. Even a bit of discpline is out of the question.