You are not allowed to hit a workmate or your partner, you are not allowed to beat a stranger or force an elderly relative to his knees and whip him with a belt. We hear of elder abuse and one-punch assaults and we shudder in horror at domestic violence.
And yet we are allowed to hit the most fragile and vulnerable members of our society – our own children.
We are not only allowed to do so, we defend our right to do so.
Gosh it confuses me.
Smacking is back in the headlines after a Supreme Court judge in South Australia overturned a father’s conviction on an assault charge brought against him for smacking his 12-year-old son.
The judge said that for parents in disciplining their children “some level of pain is permissible” and that leaving “redness” was “not unreasonable.”
“The suffering of some temporary pain and discomfort by the child will not transform a parent attempting to correct a child into a person committing a criminal offence,” Supreme Court Justice David Peek said.
The comments then lead to each and every major talk show and radio station discussing the divisive topic of smacking.
Radio 2GB host and Today Show commentator Ben Fordham weighed into the debate saying, while he never had, and hoped he didn’t ever have to, he wanted to have the “right” to smack his own child.
He said that sometimes a quick smack from mum or dad is the only way to bring a misbehaving kid into line.
“I don’t want to do it and I’ll hopefully will never need to do it,” he said “but my brother and I both, in times of reflection, both look back on our childhood and say ‘look, as much as we hated it at the time, we kind of needed it’.”
Lisa Wilkinson too entered the fray saying that from time to time her partner, Peter Fitzsimons smacked their kids.
I can see where they come from. I can understand where all the millions of people who agree with them come from.
(In fact studies show 69 per cent of Australian parents smack their children.)
I can see the overarching desire to keep the law out of family homes, and I can see the argument that parents want to be able to parent their own child their own way.
I just wish it were that easy.
What leaves me feeling confused is that as a society we overwhelmingly want to protect our children, we overwhelmingly want the best for our children and yet we refuse to consider laws to protect them.
How is this helpful?