The first in the series of public forums led by Zoran Milivojevic was held at Mixer House. A promoter of physical punishment of children, he spoke of his ideas in front of an audience of young parents, teachers and experts, winning standing ovations in the end. I felt like crying.

At the very beginning of his presentation, I was surprised to hear just how shallow his understanding of such an important and complex social issue like upbringing is. According to Zoran Milivojevic’s theory, there are only three ways to raise children, and each of them depends solely on two factors – parents’ attitude towards love and parents’ attitude towards discipline. No social factors were considered as relevant, and neither was the influence of the environment the child is brought up in taken as a factor that could influence the model of upbringing.

But, my psychologists colleagues (I speak only of psychologists here, since the pedagogues have failed to show up) who were in the audience clearly have no problem with such arbitrarily stated opinions.

What also surprised me was the extent to which someone who presents himself as an expert can arbitrarily reach a conclusion on the causes and origins of mental disorders in children. Z.M so easily said that the children who are loved are spoiled, and that beloved children do not have empathy. I almost fell off my chair.

Lack of empathy is one of the symptoms of people who suffer from psychopathy or sociopathy. Z. M. proved his idea that spoiled children are psychopaths with a story of a child who allegedly chased his mother with a knife because she wouldn’t fulfill all his wishes. Z.M. considers the cause of such an obviously pathological condition to be a too permissive mother, whom he blames for the child’s behavior. He, the president of the Serbian association of psychotherapists, is not familiar with or concerned about the objective facts of this pathological condition, which led the child to chase his mother with a knife.

In any pathological behavior he sees a mother or a grandmother as initiators of such condition. I understand that he has a problem with the female sex, but I can’t understand the women in the audience who laughed at his sarcastic examples, which he perfidiously used to portrait women as figures without authority who are emotionally unstable and unable to articulate a problem. To what extent should someone verbally abuse the audience for it to show some resistance or a glimmer of critical thinking? Those who did not laugh at the expense of their own incompetence took the opportunity to smile on the account of his opinions on the pathological influence of a grandmother on a child’s upbringing. I can only assume that a grandfather, in his opinion, has no educational or pathological influence, since he was not mentioned in the debate.

Z.M.’s theory considers the father to be some supporting character that beats or financially bribes a child, so he didn’t think to speak of him.

When an audience member asked whether an LGBT couple could raise a child in accordance with his dogma, Z.M. first choked at hearing that acronym, like many who wish to hide their contempt towards sexual minorities, and then said that he believes that the two lesbians probably could raise a child, but that he was not sure. More important to him than the so-called Family walks is a rebellion against the new draft law which will finally forbid physical punishment of children.

And so, Z.M. himself revealed his motivation for holding the forum. The idea was to bring together members of the public who support the beatings in order to create pressure at the public hearing to omit the physical punishment from the draft law. The audience was delighted with his proposal, so much that a lady professor said that no one has the right to interfere with whether she slaps her son.

When I asked whether he had ever had any contact with children who were judicially taken from their parents due to physical punishment which ended in hospitalization, Z.M. did not respond positively or negatively, but tried to distance himself from responding with a few platitudes. The avalanche of platitudes was finished with a statement that the abuse is not performed by a parent, but by an adoptive parent, “popularly known as a stepfather or a stepmother”. He did not fail to ask me what I am by profession and, when I replied that I am an educator, laughed sarcastically, together with the rest of the audience. I still don’t understand what was funny.

This forum will be organized again on December 4th, at 6 p.m., at Mixer house. I invite all of you who consider yourselves part of expert public or just consider slaps to not be civilizational achievement, to come to his forum and let him know that we will not tolerate violence or violators, no matter the form.

Translated by Marijana Simic

Pešč, 05.12.2014.