For several years retired social worker Jake Terpstra tried to promote a “SpankOut Day” in Grand Rapids. In late 2007 those efforts paid off when he and several IGE members got together and planned for the first such event in the City. We secured a mini-grant from the group that sponsors SpankOut Day nationally, “End Physical Punishment Of Children”. We also expanded to include a series of events in March and early-mid April of 2008, as well as the traditional SpankOut week – the last week in April.
In the process of organizing these events we not only gained a fair amount of publicity, but made many connections with groups that most of us knew little or nothing about previously. In a number of cases we helped individuals in these groups connect and network with each other.
In reflecting, we wanted to continue the networking and coalition building, as well as the community awareness. However, most of those involved wanted a more positive approach. The “SpankOut” orientation focused on what we did not want; we wanted a focus on what we DO want. We also did not want to duplicate what other organizations were already doing. So we adopted the name “Parenting for Peace”, with a focus on making peace not just in the family, but in the community, the nation, and the world.
Our first significant event was to invite Susan Bitensky, an expert on corporal punishment of children and the law, to speak to the annual meeting of the IGE membership. She did so on 5 November, 2008, and was very well received by the small but actively engaged audience.
Our main focus, enhanced by Susan Bitensky’s talk and other information she provided, has become what we could do locally to support USA ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. We publicly kicked off that campaign on 20 November (Universal Children’s Day), 2008.