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Stacey Patton: The Parent to Prison Pipeline

  • Impact Hub 2323 Broadway Oakland, CA, 94612 United States (map)


Research shows that black parents are more than twice as likely as white and Latino parents to use corporal punishment on a regular basis, and they are far less likely to never spank their children. But while hitting children is prevalent in black communities, contrary to popular belief, it is not an intrinsic cultural tradition to which members of the child welfare professionals should capitulate for the sake of demonstrating cultural competency. Black parents have legitimate fears about the safety of their children, and an overwhelming majority believe physical discipline is necessary to keep black children out of the streets, out of prison, or out of cops’ line of vision. Black parents who hit their children not only risk catching the attention of child protective services which are over-concentrated in communities of color, but also having their children placed in foster care, which is a pipeline to the juvenile justice system and other types of traps that disproportionately impact black youth. This workshop is designed to educate professionals, parents, clergy, law enforcement officials and advocates about the rise of mass incarceration and its impact on communities of color and their parenting practices. The audience will explore strategies that parents can protect, care for, and love black children in ways that don’t help facilitate the flow of our young people through racist systems, but supports healthy development and success later in life.

Dr. Stacey Patton is an adoptee, child abuse survivor and former foster youth turned award-winning journalist, author, child advocate and an assistant professor of multimedia journalism at Morgan State University. She is the author of the acclaimed and best-selling book, Spare The Kids: Why Whooping Children Won't Save Black America.

She is also the author of That Mean Old Yesterday - A Memoir and the forthcoming book, Strung Up: The Lynching of Black Children and Teenagers in America, 1880-1968.

Patton's writings on race, politics, pop culture, diversity in media and higher education, and child welfare issues have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, Al Jazeera, BBC News, DAME Magazine and She has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, CBS, Al Jazeera, The Tavis Smiley Show, Here and Now, and Democracy Now.

She has received reporting awards from the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Scripps Howard Foundation, New York Women in Communications, National (and New York) Association of Black Journalists, The Education Writer's Association, and she is the 2015 recipient of the Vernon Jarrett Medal for Excellence in reporting on American race relations.

Dr. Patton has also received an award from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children for using journalism to bring awareness to child welfare issues during the Adrian Peterson and "Baltimore Mom" controversies.

In addition to her journalistic work, Dr. Patton is also the creator of Spare the Kids, an online portal designed to encourage parents and caretakers to use alternatives to hitting children. She travels the country delivering keynotes and professional trainings at universities, child welfare and juvenile justice organizations and agenicies.