Correction That Corrects: Foreword

Correction That Corrects is a book on ‘child training’ authored by American Mariam Fredrick in 1925. It is remarkable in that it not only advocates spanking as an important and valuable part of child discipline, but also goes into great detail as to the ideal way in which such punishment should be administered.

This foreword from the book is offered as a free introduction for our readers. Because the book has had to be retranscribed directly from low resolution images, the only record available to Maman, the rest of its chapters will be published as part of our Red Bottom Club subscription section. Details of how to subscribe are available here.

FOREWORD

That the matter of this volume is published now rather than at a later date, is due to the advice given to the author by an authority on child training often consulted during the author’s years of study. “Owing to your conscientious search for knowledge on child life,” he said, “you are not ignorant of the fact that there cannot be found today a single complete volume treating of a proper form of punishment to be practiced in the training of children. Knowing, as I do, your wide experience and your marked success in controlling children, due, as you maintain, to a chosen form of discipline, I feel that you are not doing justice to children and to those caring for them, in any longer deferring the publication of these manuscripts submitted for my criticism.” My esteemed friend’s remarks prompted me to put into practice without further delay, my intention of publishing a complete work giving, in detail, my idea of how, in child training, children should not  and how they should be punished.

The author has spent years in the study and practice of child training, during which time she has given deep consideration to the problem of correcting the faults common to children. She has paid particular attention to the question of punishment as a means of correction and she has, with great care, looked into the various forms of corporal punishment practiced among civilized peoples. She is convinced, first, that the unqualified condemnation of corporal punishment is a mistake and is working harm to the child, to the home and to society. Secondly, that regardless of innumerable books, periodicals and magazine articles, written in the interest of child betterment, millions of young children, many of them mere babies, are today the victims of the wrong king of punishment, corporal and otherwise; and, thirdly, that countless numbers of young women dealing with the problem of child training are anxious to know if there is a right method of corporal punishment and, if so, how is is to be practiced.

That the molding of character and the future of the child depend on the training during the first few years is a statement question by few if any who have made a study of child training. The author’s years of experience give her full sympathy with this statement. Therefore, in the interest of millions of dear little children, the men and women of the future, she publishes this work. It is submitted as a guide to those young women who daily contend with the serious question, “What is the proper and fruitful form of correction for babies and very young children?” It is submitted to women, not to men, since the author has no sympathy with corporal punishment in the hands of man. Since it is a treatise on a form of corporal punishment and since she believes that ordinarily such punishment should not be prolonged beyond what is commonly termed the age of reason, the author gives herein only minor consideration to the question of discipline for the older child. She has great admiration for those who are giving, or who have given, their time and study to a consideration of the training of children past the age of reason and she hopes at some future date to publish a work on the training of the older child, but such consideration is not within the scope of this volume.

The author has practiced, most successfully, a certain form of corporal punishment. She believes it to be, of all corporal punishments, the nearest ideal and one that can be kept free from cruelty and harshness. Her conviction is not alone on account of her direct experience with children, but from the reports of hundreds of young women who, at her suggestion, have tried this form of punishment. She believes it to be a solution of the problem, how to have obedient, respectful, in a word, well-behaved children, hence the appearance of “CORRECTION THAT CORRECTS”.

Had the worked appeared twenty-five years ago there would not have been found in it certain remarks which possibly might be interpreted as constituting an apology. The author has no apology for the suggestions and advice in this volume. On the contrary, she is happy in seeing the completion of a work that has been in truth “a labor of love”. But owing to the tendency of the present age to ignore the misbehaviour of young children, she feels that she must pave her way into the minds and hearts of young mothers and others to whom is entrusted the sacred duty of caring for little ones. Her paving materials are, common sense, experience, results. Twenty-five years ago, an author could not quote from a famous judge thus: “If we had today less slushy sentimentalism, less ‘let the kiddies have their fling’, less taboo of punishment in the home, more common sense, more parental control and more legitimate punishment, the mills of juvenile court would grind less steadily, the reformatories receive fewer boys and girls, the jails and penitentiaries be less crowded.”

Seeing the wave of crime which is passing over the civilized world, we might expect that men and women dealing with the problems of child training would come out boldly and advocate stronger, firmer discipline in the home and yet how seldom do we read or hear spoken sentiment such as comes from the lips of this judge. The author has an extensive library on child training and she has not failed to note how little consideration is given to the need of correction, where common sense, not sentimentalism, holds sway. In every volume, except one, the use of corporal punishment without distinction is condemned. Hence it is that the author feels that she is practically alone as a writer, in her effort to put before the mother or governess the necessity of right corporal punishment. While she would gladly have associated with her authors of her conviction, she is not daunted by the fact that in the field she labors alone. She has not the slightest doubt that before her work is in the hands of the public many weeks, she will have thousands of followers from those who daily contend with the practical side of child correction. She needs must believe this since those who have faithfully put into practice her suggestions now advocate her method of punishment. The author would not dare to put before the public the matter of this volume were she dealing with theory only. Every theory here advanced is solidly backed by practical experience. She is aware that the public dislike mere assertions and claims, but are ever ready, yes eager, for suggestions and advice when these are backed by experience which has borne fruit.

In this work the author tries to be fir in consideration of objections, actual and possible, and answers them from the full conviction of her mind. She does not claim that the form of punishment advocated by her is perfect, but she does maintain that it is free from many objectionable features found in other forms. “CORRECTION THAT CORRECTS” comes not as a competitor. It is unique, in this respect: that as a complete volume it deals, to a great extent, with the question of corporal punishment, a subject barely touched on or vehemently condemned by the average writer on child training, and from the fact that it goes into details generally looked on as of little or no importance, but which in reality constitute one of the great factors in the success of this particular form of correction. She believes in a reasonable interpretation of “do not spare the rod and spoil the child,” while at the same time she vehemently denounces that interpretation of the text which would justify the beating or severe whipping of a child of any age. A form of corporal punishment she advocates, comes out boldly in favour of and she does so out of her love for children. She looks for her work to accomplish much, but if only one little child should be started on the right path by mother or governess following the suggestions herein, the author will not think her effort is in vain.

MARIAM FREDRICK
Los Angeles, California, Mothers’ Day, 1925.

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