Smacking children should not be made illegal
Was Margaret Thatcher right when she advocated a return to Victorian Family values? Whilst children definitely should be allowed their own voice, is it not possible to suggest the recent rise in anti-social behavior may be blamed on a lack of discipline at home?
You can also add to the debate by leaving your comment at the end of the page.
Discipline: a governmental or domestic concern?
Whilst physical violence is obviously not a means of gaining respect from a child, I simply do not believe that these are the sort of domestic activities a government should be concerning themselves with. It seems somewhat oxymoronic, Orwellian even to, on one hand, remove a means of discipline from the parent and on the other hand, create new means by which the government may control and discipline the child (looking mainly at the introduction of ASBO's under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.you sould be aloud to do what you prefare to do with your child you cant be told what to do by someone else
It is the duty of society as a whole to protect its most vulnerable members from harm. If an adult hits another adult it is considered assault, a crime, and thus falls under the remit of the law. Why then should a full grown adult hitting a small child be considred a 'domestic activity' and not be punishable?
Physical discipline creates a safer world for our children
No child likes to be punished, but in the long term the use of appropriate punishments such as smacking creates a generation of disciplined children. These children face less threat of violence or other criminal activity from their peers; less bullying, teenage muggings, or incidents such as the recent spate of teenage knife crime. A well disciplined child contributes to his society rather than endangering it.
Children may not always feel safe out in the world, because the reality is it is a dangerous place. So-called 'old fashioned discipline' is not going to change that. Children who have been exposed to violence at a young age and taught that it is an acceptable means to influence others are surely more likely to use it against their peers.
The one place that children should feel safe is in their own homes; homes that are free from physical violence.
As has been argued above, smacking (when clearly just that, and not physical abuse) does not leave marks. It does not usually render the child psychologically damaged to the effect that it can be noticed. If it were an illegal practise, parents would be unlikely to admit to doing it. Even today, parents would be sheepish to mention they use this particular form of discipline, given all the hysteria surrounding the issue.
So, when a child says "Mummy smacked me", how can it be verified, for it to then be prosecuted? Children routinely lie. They see no harm in it, but may see a benefit. For example, a child of around age seven would grasp the concept very quickly that Mummy and Daddy would have to be very, very nice if they were reported as being bad parents, and they might subsequently lie about being smacked, in order to get sweets or attention from their parents. Whilst I am not arguing that children are inherently evil, it is important to simultaneously treat their behaviour with healthy cynicism.
So, were legislation to be introduced against smacking, it would be very hard to enforce. There would also be the aspect of severity. If a mother hits her child's hand forcefully in order to prevent him reaching and touching a hot stove, is this smacking? Parents inevitably have to physically restrain children sometimes, for their own safety. To not do so would be neglect.
With this in mind, would it be worth the government's while to set up such legislation, bear the public outcry, spend tax money on advertising and awareness campaigns, only for the prosecution levels to be minimal, for a crime that seems to have never caused severe psychological or physical damage in the first place?
The argument for yes does have some obvious points that people will concern themselves with. However at best they are feeble.
Latest research shows that the psychology of a child who is smacked regularly has negative and long-term effects on a child. They have found that children will be impaired later in life in regards to making decisions, aggression is higher and there is an increase in anti-social behaviour. So what is deemed an act that leaves no scars is in actual fact something that leaves many. What is needed to be highlighted here is the study was conducted on children who smacked regularly.
With regards to children lying, yes they can. However, this is not an excuse to not protect the wellbeing of children. Children are the most vulnerable people of our society. They have no power other than what power parents allow them to have. Which incidentally is the crutch of this whole debate? I'll mention "power" soon.
Adults also lie, yet adults hurting another adult are giving the full extent of the law. How would any adult feel if suddenly it wasn't illegal for the boss to come along smack you on the bum and say, "not good enough today. You knew I needed that report by the end of the day". Children feel, think, and experience as do adults. Just as adults are traumatised by abuse in adult relationships, so too are children traumatised, humiliated by the act of smacking.
In regards to legislation, yes there needs to be limits and clear guidelines. No one wants the police to be running around on a wild goose chase. However it can be done. In New Zealand for example it is illegal to smack your child. Here are the rules:
- The rules apply to section 59 of the New Zealand Crimes Act. Use of force for correction is strictly forbidden. The Anti-Smacking Law states that adults who hit children hard enough to be prosecuted cannot excuse their behaviour as ‘correction’.
- Adults caring for children can still use ‘force’ (by methods of holding or restraining) to keep children safe – for example adults can stop a child from running out onto the street, touching a hot stove, hurting themselves or other children and they can carry a protesting child out of a supermarket.
- In using ‘force’ parents or guardians must act in good faith and have a reasonable belief that the force is both subjectively and objectively reasonable.
- Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints made against a parent of a child or guardian where the offence is considered to be so minor that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.
- Many everyday tasks require parents to use force when interacting with their children who are often stubborn and fidgety. When changing nappies, dressing or securing a child in a car seat the use of reasonable force in performing such tasks is permitted.
I'm sure it's not perfect, but it does mean that well-meaning parents are not persecuted.
The smacking debate needs to shift to a parenting debate. It's now an environment where many families let the child have a lot of power through parenting strategies that don’t work. Children sense this, they also sense having power when a parent has lost the management of the situation and lashed out and smacked. However, power must be held with the parent as children feel secure and safe in this environment.
Parents can hold the power through consistent and clear boundaries (rules), explanations that are short and concise, consequences that are relevant; along with love demonstrated through talking, sharing, spending time together and most importantly taking an interest in the child's life.
This builds up a relationship so strong that the child will always default to the parent for guidance and what is "okay". Smacking creates fear for the child and mistrust of their parent which will never set up a relationship where the parent is looked too as the one to guide them; leading children to looking outside the home for guidance, which more often than not involves anti-social behaviour.
Is it worth spending tax money on protecting our children? If you're a parent that does a lot of the alternatives mentioned to hold the power, then you won't mind the money. Let's send a message to the children - you are worthy. Children who feel worthy are adults who treat people as worthy.
Children are people. People do not earn each others respect with a smack. A smack from someone three times as big as you is terrifying. Being terrified is not a good source for education.
In addition, whatever else smacking teaches children, it primarily teaches them that physical violence is an appropriate response.
illegal for under 3 year olds
3 year olds are uncouscious of a smack they don`t understand what has happened.
Using physical pain or even just a threat of physical pain to teach/educate/better a persons decision is wrong. Many smackers will say that "i use a smack to teach my child as a last resort". This is basically saying that everything that they have done before the smack has not worked. Listen parent........WORK HARDER!!!
If you resort to smacking your child, it simply means that your ability as a parent/teacher is failing. You are the one who needs to be taught the lesson, not the child. The parent is teh one who needs to be taught how to be a parent/teacher......soooo THEY can effectively teach their child.
And yes, sometimes, it is difficult to teach a child something. But as a parent, thats what you signed up to do.
As a parent, If your ability to teach your child is inadequate, then get help. DONT, take it out on your child. Its not your childs fault that you cannot teach. Its your fault. Get assistance.
It is difficult to distinguish between 'discipline' and 'abuse'
If parents are legally allowed to physically reprimand their children, where do we draw the line between an appropriate punishment and excessive force? If a parent slaps a child and they fall and incur a serious injury, is the parent still to be considered within their rights? Child abuse is a difficult enough problem to tackle without allowing these legal grey areas.
Anyone with an ounce of common sense can distinguish between a smack and the kind of physical harm that constitutes child abuse. Disciplinary smacking does not leave a mark and would never result in hospitalisation, which is how many incidences of genuine abuse come to light.
As the No point brings up, it is a very gray area between smacking and beating, so I ask: what is it that the government would do to change this since it has been brought up as a legal issue. What is the standard for child abuse? If it is to be believed that every gray area in the issue ought to be removed, then are parents forbidden to touch their children? Is an overly-enthusiastic hug that leaves the child out of breath considered child abuse? The government should remain out of the private lives of families without an intelligible belief that the child's life is in danger. All in all, there is a difference between a light smack to reprimand a child for a negative action and abuse that could endanger the life of the child and the government should respect that difference.
There are other, better ways of disciplining a child :D
It is narrow minded to claim that smacking is the only way to reinforce moral values in children. Far better methods involve systems of reward and punishment that deprive children of their favourite treats, such as time with their games console. 'Supernanny' Jo Frost has popularised the idea of the 'naughty step' as a means of punishing young children. These methods teach children to take responsibility for their own actions, not just to fear the threat of a smack. In practice, smacking often only results in a child become distressed and hysterical; they may even lash out and try to hit the parent back. This is clearly not the best way to put a stop to bad behaviour.
Smacking has been an accepted punishment for children for hundreds of years. It is only with the rise of these new ideas that we have seen a sharp decline in discipline and, as a result, rising rates of crime and social problems. Smacking is simply a more effective deterrent than softer punishments. In schools, children used to behave because they feared a caning; our modern 'detentions' are little more than a homework club and children do not think twice about incurring such a punishment.
Smaking causes anti social behavior
Children who are smaked regually by their parents are likely to be anti social and grow up to become criminals. Children who are anti social are more likely to run into trouble with the law lie often and pick fights at school.
What do you think?