Wednesday 26 October 2016

So you don't like this week's column? Then belt me, it might help me learn

Smacking children
Smacking children

We're in trouble with Europe for smacking our kids. Well, our laws call it 'reasonable chastisement'. But smacking is what it is. And a lot of people think Europe is wrong. But only 42pc of people (according to recent polls) believe smacking your kids should be illegal.

And there's an apparent logic to this - some parents feel there's a point where kids won't respond to anything else. Others think back to getting belted as kids and say 'well, it did me no harm'.

The best way to judge it is to put the logic in other contexts: 'My colleague was refusing to listen, so I smacked him'. 'I was spanked as a kid, it did me no harm, so I occasionally belt my husband.' 'Sometimes the only way to get through to staff is with a firm, open-palmed slap on the behind'.


We'd regard it as bizarre, inappropriate and most likely criminal to behave like that with adults. Yet nearly half of us are OK with doing it with kids, who are more fragile, more easily influenced, and way less able to defend themselves.

Kids may not always respond to reason, or conversation. But that creates an onus on adults to find a type of discipline that is not damaging.

Frustration or tiredness is not an excuse. And the fact that one generation had a less than ideal experience is no reason to recreate that experience for the next one.

Because while a lot of people may say 'being smacked did me no harm' I'd be willing to bet fewer say 'being smacked made me closer to my parents, made me happier, made me more confident, and was the only possible way my parents could have got through to me.'

And unless that's the view and that view is scientifically supported, then smacking ain't the way to bring up kids.

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