I wanted to share with you my thoughts about smacking children. I have read so much over the years and as a parent I have tried my best to steer my children in a positive direction and use the likes of putting them in their room for time-out. There were times when it was a challenge to remain calm – as well us parents know.
It was important as a mummy to provide the best start in life for my children and provide them with a nurturing and loving family setting. It was also important to encourage them, to point out why it was unacceptable to throw a tantrum because they couldn’t get crisps etc. My role as their parent was also about protecting them from danger and being supportive to them as they pushed the boundaries and wanted more independence and wanted to explore and see where their place was in the world.
Unfortunately, for some children they don’t get a good start in life – in fact for some children physical punishment is still part of their upbringing. Looking at the law, dog owners would be prosecuted for hitting/punishing a dog, a domestic violence situation would be prosecuted under the law, indeed if an adult assaulted another adult it would be illegal. So I guess my question is why doesn’t the law protect children against assault?
It is my view that the law does need to change to allow equal protection for all children. The international evidence could not be any clearer – physical punishment has the potential to damage children and carries the risk of escalation into physical abuse. There is also a great deal of evidence to show that corporal punishment is ineffective in the long term as a method of disciplining children.
The results from Sweden, which outlawed physical punishment against children in 1979, are encouraging and conclude that after the ban on smacking “parents have not been criminalised for minor infractions, the social authorities have not become more coercive and the youth have not become more unruly”.
I guess it would be like the smoke free legislation in that we need public attitudes to smacking children to change and as Sweden has found – it would never be about criminalising parents but to help redefine what is acceptable in how we treat and allow our children to florish.
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