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February 12, 2006

NO FEAR - A Police Officer's Perspective

In his eighteen years of service as a law enforcement officer, Detective Robert Surgenor has witnessed an alarming rise in defiance and a total lack of fear in America's youth. In many of today's young people, there is no fear. No fear of consequences. No fear of authority. No fear of God. A generation without conscience.

Interviewing hundreds of juvenile offenders and their families, Detective Surgenor discovered that the majority of violent juvenile offenders came from homes where there is no corporal punishment or spanking. Surgenor proposes that today's parents have been influenced by psychologists to believe that corporal punishment is counter-productive and harmful to children. But, in fact, permissive, uncontrolled parenting is destructive to society.

Go here to get a copy => No Fear - A Police Officer's Perspective


  1. While not to offend Detective Surgenor, his ideas do fly in the face of 30 years of psychological studies. If we believed him it would be hard to explain studies that show you are more likely to comit a crime if you come from a good family (morally speaking) in a bad neighborhood. Than a bad family in a good neighborhood.

    People are so caught up in blaming the mother for all of her son's faults that they often forget that peer groups tend to have more influnce than both parents combind.

    I think you will find it a small surprise that these peer groups are often formed in public schools.

  2. Jim,

    Have you happened to notice that in the past 30 years we have seen a serious rise in juvenal delinquents who are violent to society? Now I will agree with you 100% that the peer groups in public schools are largely to blame, but without any form of effective discipline at home (or at school), what are these kids supposed to do?

    I would be interested in seeing some of studies that show you are more likely to commit a crime if you come from a good family (morally speaking) in a bad neighborhood. Than a bad family in a good neighborhood.

    Discipline and proper training starts in the home. Unfortunately the Dr. Spock generation that believed the psychological propaganda 'not to spank' has produced countless kid criminals and now we will see a generation with absolutely No Fear of authority.

    You should try to get the book, I think you will find it very enlightening.

    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.

  3. Hm. We're back to the really really bad business of using very questionable statistics when trying to support a view-point.

    On the one hand, we've got Mr. Surgenor who has kindly provided us with FBI statistics and the like on why kids are violently taking over the country.

    On the other hand... well... 30 seconds of research allowed me to find this rather informative pair of sites that seem to take issue with Surgenor's presentation of information.

    The first is an Amazon.com review of Surgenor's opus:
    A Crackpot Rant With No Contributions to Human Knowledge (Review #6)

    The second is a site, recommended by the individual that made the post, that contains an essay which addresses Surgenor's claims:
    Review: Robert Surgenor's
    "No Fear: A Police Officer's
    Perspective" by Chris Dugan, April 2001

    Read up.

  4. Seanny, so what's your point?

    Do you have an alternative form of discipline that has proven to be effective?

    Do you even have children of your own?

    What other explanation can you offer for why kids are violently taking over the country?

    I guess FBI statistics are totally bunk too, huh? I have three kids and I do daycare, so please enlighten me with your thoughts and ideas about discipline.

  5. Dani,

    Did you actually read the links I presented?

    I do not have children of my own, but I do have a childhood where I was not spanked and, lo and behold, I did not turn to a life of crime. Rather, I excelled in school and am currently wrapping up a bachelor's degree with the intention to go on to even further education. I also have an excellent relationship with my parents, with whom I talk and visit frequently. Heaven forbid the rest of unspanked North America turn out this way.

    Now, you ask me "What other explanation can you offer for why kids are violently taking over the country?" which is what really reveals that you didn't pay any attention to what was written. The other explanation I, and the essay, offer is that kids are not "violently taking over the country." The FBI statistics weren't bunk; Robert Surgenor's presentation of them was entirely misleading. If you had read it, you would have discovered that he cut off the statistics he had been using at 1994, the point immediately prior to a marked and continuous decrease in juvenile crime. In addition, I believe he was using statistics for actual arrests of youth involved in such crimes, and not the actual incidences. If I read correctly, the incidences of youth crime actually decreased, while the police, as a matter of increased "zero-tolerance" policy, made more overall arrests of those kids that were comitting crime. I could go on and on and rehash all of Dugan's refutals, but I'll let you actually read the essay yourself this time.

    At the present stage of my life, I have few thoughts and ideas about discipline. It will be a few years yet before I am even married, and so it's a small concern of mine. When the time comes, I will most certainly examine what appears to me to be the best forms of discipline based on how I have been raised and on what seems appropriate at the time. My point here, however, is not to suggest that I somehow know more about raising children than you do. Clearly, because I have none, I do not. That is irrelevant, however, since the issue at hand is not my wealth or lack of parenting skills. The point I'm after is drawing attention to the extremely unacademic practices that Robert Surgenor employs in his book. As a result, his book does more to weaken your argument (which I am assuming is the notion that youth are becoming more and more violent because they are not being spanked as children) than to support it.

    In the future, it would be prudent to investigate (even just a little bit) your sources to ensure that they are on the level. A few short minutes on Google, or Amazon.com should be enough to determine whether or not there is any controversy surrounding a given book/article/study. That way you can stand behind your evidence and sound more convincing when you tell your readers that it is "the truth."


    You stated that "Chis Dugan appears to be a 24 year old with an 'MA' in something." Seeing as a Master's degree, while not a PhD, is still no mean feat to accomplish, we can infer from this that Chris Dugan is not just a dumb liberal hack and is actually quite capable of doing reasonable academic research.

    The number of reviews given for the book and their nature is not anywhere near as relevant as the arguments made therein. All but one of the 8 supporters simply agreed flat out with everything Surgenor said. All of them also made it clear that they already held with Surgenor's opinions prior to
    reading the book. Swaffield, the reviewer that criticized Dugan's essay, said that Dugan was wrong and Surgenor is right, but neglected to say how beyond claiming that his argument was "born of ignorance of the system." On the other hand, Dugan's essay provides evidence from a large number of recent credible sources. Since none of Swaffield's criticisms are supported in any other way than telling us "I'm a retired police officer, so I know better" we are left with no specific argument against Dugan.

    You are quite right in your assessment that Dugan is opposed to spanking. He certainly does have a website devoted to it, it's true. Surgenor, on the other hand, is very strongly for it. He has an entire book devoted to it. So, both of the writers involved have personal beliefs behind what they've written. Wonderful. Now what about the actual content? Well, after looking over Dugan's evidence, I'm pretty strongly convinced of his argument. So I'm asking: Even though he is a "24 year old with an 'MA' in something" as well as running a homegrown website and writing book reviews on Amazon.com, are his arguments fallacious? Are his sources suspect? If they are, and you can convincingly show them as such, I'll be happy to reconsider my opinion of the essay.

  6. P.S. Since I posted without realizing ABL had added a little addendum to his comment, I had a few questions/observations about it.

    Judge Sikora's remark “Do I believe that spanking is the missing ingredient? I don't believe I can make a blanket statement like that.” seems a mite ambiguous. I had to read it a couple of times to get the right context, and even still, it seems like he could be saying anything. Certainly, avoiding making blanket statements is always a responsible move, but I don't know that this specific quote can show support or an absence thereof for Dugan's argument. Was there more to it that might put it into better context?

    The PDF report on juvenile crime is indeed complex, and deals with many aspects of juvenile crime. I don't recall any of the studies showing any kind of marked increase in violent crime, however. Most, if not all, seem to show a peak around 1993-1994, and then a rapid decrease to today's levels, which goes contrary to Surgenor's description of a steady increase raging out of control. Admittedly, I read through some sections quickly; which instances of rising youth crime were you referring to?

  7. ABL,

    On that first paragraph, concerning different approaches for different children based on their needs, I'd have to say that I agree completely. As well, I imagine that the first hand accounts in Surgenor's book may well be of considerable interest. It's really the matter of tying those accounts together with his misleading statistics to conclude that an unstoppable increasing wave of juvenile crime is sweeping the nation that bothered me.

    It had occurred to me that his use of statistics only up until 1994 or so might have been a simple mistake, and not a deliberate attempt to deceive. If I'm not mistaken, however, he began in the Juvenile Crime division in '95, so the decrease would already have been in effect at that point. I'm not sure if this proves or means anything, and I'm also not sure what can be gleaned from any of that info that go to Surgenor's intentions without asking the guy himself. The important thing, I would imagine, is that the information in his book is researched appropriately, and the conclusions arrived at therein assessed on the basis of what's actually happening according to today's information.

  8. Thank you, ABL for doing some further research on this matter and for your great comments.

    I appreciate your objective point of view, but laying all statistics aside, we should look at the bigger picture of things. I think it is important to note that regardless of whether juvenal crime is dropping as of today, the fact still remains that over the past thirty years criminal activity is at an alarming high rate among teens. Considering this book was written over half a decade ago, I think it is fair to conclude that Detective Robert Surgenor’s statistics are accurate according to his personal experience as a law enforcement officer.

    All that aside, the book No Fear, A Police Officer’s Perspective also approaches child rearing from a Biblical standpoint so it is not surprising to see the attempts by non-spanking advocates to discredit the Bible. So-called child rearing “experts” try to convince their readers that the Bible doesn’t really mean what it says. But, the Bible is the number one bestseller of all time; it is thousands of years old and full of timeless wisdom and instruction, specifically on child training.

    As a follower of Christ, I receive my instructions exclusively from the Word of God. It just so happens that Detective Surgenor’s views on child discipline align with the Bible. But, God is the ultimate authority in all of life, not a police officer, Mr. Dugan or FBI statistics.

    God repeatedly talks about this issue of child discipline in the book of Proverbs.

    “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him."

    “Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death."

    “Do not hold back discipline from the child. Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from hell.”

    “He who withholds the rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently.”

    “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame… Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your heart.”

    "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

    The practical wisdom found in these verses in the book of Proverbs covers the subject of child rearing and corporal punishment. Children who are not properly disciplined, are among the most miserable of children. Unruly and spoiled children are not the blessings that the Bible says they should be to parents. When a child is given no boundaries, they feel lost. If they have been given boundaries, yet those boundaries are not maintained, it causes great harm to a child, as they will not only be in dangerous territory, they will also lose respect for authority. This is where we find so many of the children and youth of today. They are rebels, who not only disrespect authority, but openly defy all authority figures such as teachers, policemen, clergy, and their own parents. The blame rests upon the parents of these children, if they have not heeded the advice given in this and other verses found in the Bible.

    While you may disagree, Seanny, Godly discipline will keep children from being dysfunctional later in life. We are told as Christian parents to train our children in the ways of the Lord and when he grows up, he will not depart from that training. Notice it says "train" not "teach." Many parents teach their children right from wrong, but have failed to "train" them to obey. Spanking is part of the training. Many parents yell and threaten their children, but never follow through with the proper punishment and therefore their children get their own way. A disciplined child will bring great delight to parents, while the child left alone will bring shame to the home and destruction to society.

  9. I understand your point of view, but must disagree on a few points.

    Concerning the credibility of the book: Surgenor published the book in December of 1999, after nearly six years of a steady decrease in juvenile crime. Dugan's essay (and I apologize for the way I keep harping on it) also examined whether or not juvenile crime had increased locally for Surgenor, looking at statistics as specific as those for the county in which he worked. The only way in which Surgenor's statistics could have been accurate would have been if they weren't statistics at all, only a personal revulsion to the fact that juvenile crime was happening in the first place. The situation of crime among teens and other youngsters may not be great, but it's improving, and has been for a little while now without the aid of increased corporal punishment.

    I'm not sure that the Bible being the #1 Bestseller of all time is as important a quality as you say it is. The #2 Bestseller of all time is Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, but I know that Western society doesn't use that as a standard by which to judge the book's quality or applicability to everyday life. Most of us will agree that Chairman Mao did some pretty terrible things during his reign. The #9 Bestseller of all time is The Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, which deals with sex, drugs and violence in rather large quantities. Don't mistake my meaning, however, I'm not implying that the Bible represents so many terrible things, only that its status as a #1 Bestseller means different things than you're suggesting. Indeed, I'm sure that if one were to calculate how many copies of the Bible were purchased individually, rather than in bulk for the stocks of Churches and other religious establishment, not to mention the Gideon Bible, which finds its way into the large majority of hotel and motel rooms everywhere, to name a few examples, one would find the actual figure for the number of Bibles sold much more... conservative. For instance, in the province of British Columbia alone, there were, as of 2003, approximately 78,400 hotel and motel rooms. In the province of Ontario, as of 2004, there were roughly 8,665 hotels, motor hotels, resorts, motels, casino hotels, etc. with varying numbers of rooms for each establishment. If we assume that each Ontario Hotel (which numbered at around 5,160) has at least, say, 15 rooms, with a bible in each, the numbers already dwarf BC's and begin to look staggering. And these are only two provinces in Canada. Add on top of that all the countries in the world that include Gideon Bibles in their nightstand drawers, and all the other religious establishments that keep a large number of them onhand for their members, and you start to realize that, perhaps, it's not as popular a purchase item for the average North American as you think.

    I'd agree that if God (saying hypothetically that he exists) is the ultimate authority, that his word would trump Surgenor, Dugan, or the FBI. Luckily, Dugan and the statistics were only proving Surgenor wrong. The Bible may describe the manner in which it feels children should best be disciplined, but it doesn't address in any way the decrease of juvenile crime in the United States since 1994.

    As far as proper child-rearing, well, in some respects we agree, and in some we disagree. Remove the biblical rhetoric, and much of what you say works just fine. Certainly, children need boundaries. They need firm parents, but also caring parents. Studies have shown that spanking, gently and in moderation can have positive effects when used as a corrective method. Some of the same studies, however, show that no spanking at all, but firm and rational discussion with the child, can and does achieve the same ends.

    One side of things I read put it into a particularly interesting perspective:

    "We forbid “reasonable chastisement” of wives (as well as servants, soldiers, and convicts), but not because of evidence that this type of punishment is “ineffective”—there’s no question that it can be “effective” in gaining obedience. We forbid this kind of “discipline” because we believe that respect for humans beings is more important than maintaining order and obedience. We believe that civilized people should be able to work out their problems without resorting to physical attacks. We believe that people, no how matter much they try our patience, should have the right not to be hit."

    So I do disagree that it is absolutely necessary in the life of a child, that they be spanked. I present myself as evidence for this argument, and know that there are many others out there who fit this profile as well. More, I think, than you believe possible.

    *some of the sites I looked at can be found here, here, and here.

    *The accomodation statistics can be found here, and here.

  10. Now I know this my be a stretch - but could the 'decline' in juvenal crime possibly be because there are less teens around than there were thirty years ago? Since 1973 when abortion was made legal in the United States, over 50 million children were never given a chance at life. The household size of the average American family has declined from 3.1 to 2.6 persons during the last 30 years. Other reasons for this include the decline in fertility, changes in the living patterns of youth and fewer overall marriages, a higher median age for marriage, and increases in the divorce rate.


    While the Bible may be the #1 best seller of all time, sadly it is the least read book of our day - which is another explanation for the moral decay of our country.

    Spanking should not be the only form of punishment, but in my experience as a mother and child care provider, when done in love, it is the method that brings the quickest results. Personally, time-outs and firm, rational discussions with children to not work. Children to not need to rationalize everything, all they need to do is associate pain with a bad behavior.

    Of course the discipline of children should begin at an early age, whenever a child begins to defy the parent. Remember the old saying, "He who spares the rod, spoils the child." In the above verses, notice that the Bible says that all children have foolishness in their hearts. The Bible definition of a fool means one who is a rebel, so this is saying that all children have rebellion in them and when it surfaces, it is our duty as parents to drive it out of them. We are to do this by punishing them with a whack on the buttocks with a small reed-like rod. This rod could be a switch from a fruit tree branch or a willow tree branch or a small wooden spoon. It is not to be a large heavy rod or anything that would cause permanent physical damage. The purpose of a spanking is not to cause any lasting bodily harm, but to cause spiritual correction. A spanking should be swift and cause short lived pain that makes a point. That point is that the small pain they feel now will prevent them from feeling great pain by the act they are committing, which could cause them loss of their lives in some cases. (For instance, if a child tries to run across the street, they could be run over and killed.)

    Some people say that all spanking is child abuse, but this is totally wrong. The real abuse to the child is not to spank them when they need correction. Of course, some parents, who themselves are out of control, can abuse their children by beating them in angry rages. This is child abuse, however, it does not justify doing away with spanking children if it is done properly, and for the right reasons. Parents who beat their children, need help themselves. They are sinful people and they not only will abuse their children by beating them, but will hurt them in other ways as well. Many times, these same children are left to go hungry and uncared for. They have no love. These kind of homes need the love of Christ so that the whole family can be healed. We are not to spank our children with uncontrolled anger, and thus hand out unjust punishment. After we spank our kids, we explain why they got a spanking and we give them a big hug and kiss and tell them we love them. Surprisingly, our children are happy, obedient and they love us more for doing it.


    Seanny, while you may not have grown up to be a criminal, you did grow up to hate God. Since you have No Fear of God and His authority you will experience eternal consequences far worse than you may think!

  11. ABL,

    My apologies on not making the link to my quote clear. It was the third link mentioned in my footnotes, and I'll post it again here:


    Piaget's model is an interesting one, and I imagine well-respected. I won't dispute his findings at this point as I know little about child psychology and don't really disagree with anything he says anyhow.

    For the rest, I also agree. I think that Surgenor's book very likely has good things to say about those children that are out of control. In addition, the passages Dani quoted also agree with me. If the passages are interpreted as metaphors for simply applying firm discipline in a loving spirit, I have no truck with them. My concern is mainly with literal interpretations, or interpretations that encourage near-exclusive use of spanking as a corrective measure, which we agree was one of the main detractors of Surgenor's book. But as I said, I agree pretty well with everything else you've said. There's no lack of love or lack of discipline in my views, only a belief that spanking is not A)often necessary or B)responsible alone, by virtue of its absence, for any kind of bad/criminal behaviour in today's youth.

  12. Dani,

    No, I don't believe that the drop in juvenile crime is as a result of abortion being legalized in the early 1970's. The major drop to which we're referring began in 1994, anyhow, and so couldn't possibly bear any relationship to abortion's legalization unless this legalization had occurred closer to the late 1980's.

    By moral decay, you must be referring to increased civil liberties tied to issues of abortion, homosexuality, and other behaviours you believe are forbidden in the Bible. Since society is gradually becoming safer (due to the overall drop in violent crime for many years now that we discussed in a previous post), your view of moral decay can only be related to biblical dictates. Since I'm not an absolute believer in biblical dictates, and generally support abortion and gay marriage and the like, the drop in crime suggests to me that North America is becoming safer and healthier. Strikes me as a matter of perspective, really. But I don't hate God, Dani. I don't even know if he exists. I assure you, if I could be sure of his existence, I'd love him as much as you do.

    Now, I disagree with with your approach. I do believe in good discipline, and I can even imagine situations where spanking would be appropriate, but the regular use you suggest, and with tree branches or kitchen utensils seems a bit excessive. I disagree that "all they need to do is associate pain with bad behaviour." It sounds just a bit too Pavlovian to me. While it might be effective for the immediate problem, I don't think my child should be trained the same way my dog is. I think that there are better alternatives. Without coporal punishment, I was raised to respect my parents and my peers. I am happy, whole, intelligent, well-educated, caring, kind, and consciencious. I am confident, and able to think critically about the issues in my life. This is the least of what I wish for my children, and if my parents were able to achieve that without treating me like a household pet, so can I.

  13. Sorry to take so long to respond but unfortunately my personal life takes priority.

    "Have you happened to notice that in the past 30 years we have seen a serious rise in juvenal delinquents who are violent to society? Now I will agree with you 100% that the peer groups in public schools are largely to blame, but without any form of effective discipline at home (or at school), what are these kids supposed to do?"

    As I'm sure someone else has already pointed out, the past 30 years saw a rise and a sudden decline. So why the two?

    Levitt blames abortion. Gladwell blames it on the "broken window theory." Others go for a relaxing and then strengthening of penal systems. You can take your pick, however the point is there has been a consistant loosening of family values across this time period, so it CANNOT be the reason.

    If you'd like some sources for the environment over homelife argument try the following: H. Hartshorne and Mark May. I would name serveral studies but they are just too numerious.


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