burning kids’ hands on stoves in the mountains of north georgia

Last summer, I spent a few days with friends in the mountains of north Georgia. At some point during the trip, I noticed that there were billboards along the road featuring close-ups of glowing red stovetops, with captions like, “Stoves are for cooking.” I asked my friend Mike, who lives there, why they needed to remind his fellow Georgians that stoves were for cooking. I was expecting to hear something hilarious about people attempting to cook pancakes on the screens of overturned television sets or some such thing, when he replied that, sometimes, people in that part of the country disciplined their kids by pressing their hands onto red-hot burners… I can’t even begin to imagine how that thought could occur to a parent. How could someone look at a hot burner, and think, “Hmmmm…. You know what that might be good for?” And, even if it did happen once, I can’t imagine it growing to be an epidemic. I don’t see the idea spreading like wildfire through groups of parents. And yet something must have precipitated this campaign. It’s unthinkable, and yet it happens. I didn’t want to believe it myself, but I just did a quick check online, and found that a woman in Florida was just arrested for it… I know it goes without saying, but kids deserve better than they get in this torture-friendly culture of ours.

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30 Comments

  1. Posted September 8, 2008 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s happens all the time in Mississippi. Kids would also get beaten with thorny sticks. It’s really common down there. I think they think that Jesus likes it.

  2. ytown
    Posted September 8, 2008 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    What the hell is wrong with people! Crimes against children disgusts me. If I saw this happening I would lose control.

  3. mark
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I knew we’d eventually find something we could agree on, ytown.

  4. mark
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Thinking about it last night, it occurred to me that it could be a throwback to the days of slavery, when I’m sure that forms of torture like that were used in the south. It’s amazing to me that things like this are still happening in the United States.

  5. stella
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    What, you never got “touched up” with the iron?

  6. Posted September 9, 2008 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    The South is an inherently violent and dehumanizing place. The people who originally settled there were either religious freaks, people who owned slaves or were involved in the slave trade and the slaves themselves.

    It’s not surprising at all that this is happening, given the backward nature of the South. The life expectancy and infant mortality rates in Miss and Louisiana are on par with many poor African countries.

  7. Brackache
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Why do I have a feeling that, to someone who’d actually do that to their own kid, the billboards’ dictating statement would not have the positive effect intended?

    And has this abuse been verified yet as the reason for the billboards?

  8. Auntie Ypsilanti
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Oddly, I would think the billboard would be a PSA against meth labs…

  9. Robert
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    There’s a website address given below the message on the billboard. Can anybody make that out? I’d like to see what the site is like.

    I’ve seen the billboards telling people not to shake their babies. I’ve also seen the ones telling guys not to beat their wives. Like Brackache, I suspect these ads don’t influence abusers in a positive way. But maybe they are intended more to raise awareness among the general population that doesn’t regularly torture loved ones.

  10. EoS
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    The billboards are trying to educate people to not use stoves to heat their houses. (if the fuel oil tank is empty and their furnaces don’t work)

  11. West Cross is the Best Cross
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    Wow, I had no idea there were so many experts on Southern culture who read this site. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is horrible and it may be true that for some reason it’s popular in the South, but I hate hearing things like Dude’s comments.
    Sweeping generalizations about cultures is racism pure and simple.
    Plenty of Northern kids get beat too.

  12. EL
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    http://jimgoad.net/cgi-bin/archives/00000016.htm

  13. Robert
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Dude and I are willing to let any Southern state off the hook if they vote for Obama.

    Just for clarification, the billboards I saw were all in the industrial Midwest. I know very little about the South outside of the fact that a high percentage of the people there can be incredibly charming.

  14. Posted September 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m from the South.

  15. Posted September 9, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Live there and tell me different. And don’t think that living in some pseudo-yankee area like Durham, North Carolina counts. It doesn’t.

  16. ytown
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Here is the website: http://www.preventchildabuse.org

  17. Paw
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I removed my eldest son’s left hand, baked it, and forced him to eat it.

  18. Robert
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Now I understand the billboard outside my house that reads “Try not being such a dick.”

  19. Brackache
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    “An asshole should only be a place to poop out of.”

  20. Ed
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    A few years back while driving in Detroit, a friend and I noticed a billboard with the image of an infant that read “Don’t shake me – you’ll break me”. This isn’t just a southern thing, and at least somebody is addressing it.

  21. smyth
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of the bill boards in Mississippi:

    “Remember, statutory rape is a crime”

  22. Posted September 9, 2008 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    NO WAY. When did you see that?

    Are you serious?

  23. Paw
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    I think it actually said:

    “Don’t hit it if’n it’s kin”.

  24. Sherman
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Paw — in regards to your earlier statement: nice move making the kid eat it. You totally got ’em on a technicality. You could also eat the whole kid, but I find they don’t learn as much about not sassin’ back that way. But I suppose if you have enough kids, it may be worth it to make one an example.

  25. Robert
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Sherman – I see your point but I’m not sure it was such a great idea for Paw to make his kid eat his hand. Maybe he should have left that choice up to the kid. Sometimes I think you just need to let them make some of their own decisions so they learn some self reliance. They grow up so fast, I know it’s hard to let go. Still having both of your own hands makes it even harder.

  26. mark
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    The post, for what it’s worth, wasn’t supposed to be a slam against the south. I was born in Kentucky and spent much of my youth living in South Carolina and Georgia. I don’t think that child abuse is a southern thing. One of my first memories of living in Michigan was turning on the TV and hearing about a mother in Detroit that, instead of getting a babysitter, locked her infant up in a dry toilet bowl with a cinder block on top of the lid. I wondered where in the hell I’d moved to. So, no, crazy evil parents aren’t just in the red states. Lots of folk apparently beat their children, burn them with irons, etc. I’d never heard of the “hands on the burner” punishment, though… And I don’t know, but maybe there is something to it having it’s roots in slavery.

  27. mark
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    And, no, I will not speak to the press about the rumor that Zingerman’s is now planning to open a Baked Children’s Hands food cart in Ypsi!

  28. Sherman
    Posted September 9, 2008 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Robert — an excellant suggestion. I’ve likewise found giving my working girls a choice of which eye I’m to gouge out for their withholding my fair share is similarly a great edifier of my charges’ characters. Invariably when they’ve tasted the rigors of the real world, without it’s dependable supply of meth, they return and thank me for it.

  29. Robert
    Posted September 11, 2008 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I have to take just a moment now to give props to ytown for being the one who figured out the website address.

    We now return you to the regularly scheduled fighting and insults.

  30. Kat
    Posted October 1, 2008 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    http://www.preventchildabuse.org is the website on the billboard.

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