UPDATE: Smacking should be banned says The Royal Australasian College of Physicians paediatric and child health division president Dr Gervase Chaney. Dr Chaney said the body was reviewing its policy on smacking children and would likely officially support a ban and would then call on the Australian Government to do the same. “There has been good evidence that in countries where it has been banned there is a reduction in child abuse,” he said. “Though many people have used physical discipline, and it is still regarded in most of our society as an acceptable form of parenting, there is no clear delineation between what is acceptable as a smack and what is child abuse.” Britain’s equivalent body also reviewed its policy this month saying ‘today’s smack becomes tomorrow’s punch’. Mr Chaney said it was no longer OK for parents to say ‘it never did us any harm’.
The other day I had a small car accident. I told my husband and received the obligatory lecture “you have to take more care…..why can’t you ever learn?” A while later, I had another small ding with the car so when my husband found out, he was very upset. In response, he hit me- it wasn’t hard, just a gentle slap to teach me a lesson.
Does this story make you mad? Horrible isn’t it? Luckily, this isn’t a true story for me, but one I made up to highlight a point. Very few people accept violence between spouses– even the “smallest” hint of physical harm is not acceptable now days. Then why, oh why, do so many people think that physical punishment of children is still OK? I’m not talking about child abuse. I am talking about use of physical discipline of children. A smack, a slap, a gentle tap….why is our society so tolerant of this?
Many parents will hold firm on the view that they have the right to smack their own children. A recent poll suggested that 70% of people are against banning physical punishment of children. We have banned teachers using the cane, and outlawed people harming other people’s children, but the law still allows parents to smack and slap their own. And by keeping physical discipline unlegislated, it sends a message to parents that smacking is fine.
Two generations ago there was widespread tolerance of spousal domestic violence. Some would say “It’s between a man and his wife…don’t get involved”. The same argument is used now days about smacking children. “Leave it up to the family. Parents should decide what they do in their home. It’s their right as the parent”. If you’re not sure on the subject -then let’s look at the reasons people smack:
1. “It’s the only thing that works with my child”. Physical discipline doesn’t work. It merely creates fear and causes upset. A vast amount of good research shows that smacking is not as effective as other techniques. Behaviour change is ineffective when brought about by fear, it is temporary at best and it teaches the child a whole lot more about how adults manage their emotions, than about the behaviour the parent is trying to control.