Is that still even a question?
Well, yes it is – and is now up for discussion in the Scottish Parliament. John Finnie MSP has proposed a bill to ban the smacking of children in Scotland: “to give children equal protection from assault by prohibiting the physical punishment of children by parents and others caring for or in charge of children”.
How do you feel about this? It is sure to raise many an eyebrow, defenses and justifications.
Were you smacked as a child and now hold the belief that “well, I was smacked as a child and it never did me any harm”?
What if I told you, that the fact you believe that it is OK to physically strike a child means that you did NOT turn out OK? How does that make you feel?
This is not a post to shame anyone. Honestly, I am not here to criticise your parenting or judge you. The aim of this post is to challenge you and your beliefs. I can do that because I used to hold the very same belief that I turned out fine.
The truth of the matter is, I did not turn out fine. I wasn’t smacked often but I was smacked, and I remember them. I don’t hold it against my parents, it was the 80’s/90’s – it was the norm, it was how children had been punished for generations. And, by all accounts, we got off lighter than some other kids I knew. As a result, I thought that a smack never did any harm, that children pushed their parents to the limit, they had to respect their elders etc etc. It was how I was raised and I never thought to question it.
Until I did. I questioned everything about it and drew a very different conclusion. No-one has the right or permission to either lift a hand, or to threaten any kind of physical punishment, to my child. Ever.
I 100% do not condone smacking.
I do however, understand why some people do. And for some, the guilt and shame that follows. I don’t understand those who smack a child then demand that the child apologizes to the adult. That is batshit crazy and absurd from every angle, serving only to soothe the ego of the smacker.
If you think it’s fine to “tap” a child’s hand or bottom or back of the legs, please pause for a moment and consider the following :
- What would you do if your partner “tapped” you? Not hard (in their opinion) but because you pushed them to the end of their frustration and they lost control. If you told your friend(s) that your partner hit you, you would probably get a tirade of angry advice including recommendations to leave him/her, report it to the police, offer of a couch to stay at theirs etc etc. Why? Because that’s domestic violence.
- Smacking teaches respect. Does it? Does it really? Go back to the example above. Would you respect your partner if they slapped you? Even “just once”? Of course you wouldn’t. You may fear them, yes, but certainly not respect them. Fear and respect are not interchangeable.
- Children need to respect their elders. Why? Do elders respect the children? Its a 2 way street, is it not? “Do as I say or else you’ll get a smack”. The threat of physical punishment may achieve the desired act of obedience from the child, but there is not one drop of respect in this exchange, in either direction.
- Children need discipline. Yes they do – we all do. We need to be disciplined in self control and restraint. Physical punishment is not demonstrative of self control and restraint, quite the opposite in fact.
- In the work place, 2 employees get into a brawl. Would the employer be justified in breaking up the fight and then strike both employees (or the one who started it) for fighting? Of course not! So why, when 2 siblings are fighting, is it OK for a parent to break up the fight and then smack one or both siblings for fighting? It is a complete nonsensical double standard is it not?
- “When someone hits you, make sure you hit them back and hit them harder!” How many times were we taught that when young, or taught our own kids the same message. Say an adult smacks the child, what would that adult do if that same child were to heed the advice and hit them back? Would the adult strike the child again? Bellow at the kid for disrespecting their elders? Who knows…
- I spent 5 years teaching my very physical son, that violence is never the answer and that he must never hit his friends (or anyone) when he was upset or angry. What impact would one smack have on him, if he was to be struck by an adult? It would completely unravel all my work/his understanding and send a confused message.
Am I changing your mind yet? Is there still a distinction between assault and justifiable assault because the victim is a minor?
What do kids who are smacked do instead :
- They turn into little parent pleasers. Scared or wary of challenging their parents or other adults. When they themselves become adults, this uncomfortable notion of challenging “superiors” remains and causes self doubt and untold frustration.
- As smacking causes fear rather than respect, they become sneaky, and are very careful not to get caught doing anything they think may result in a smack.
- They live what they learn; smacking is normalised and accepted unquestioningly and the cycle repeated
- They learn to act first think last. It’s fine to lash out when pissed off or buttons are pushed, become bullies, or
- turn inwards and become fearful. Not trusting themselves, their instincts or convictions.
- There is a break down in the relationship between the child and the adult, and is not always repairable
Alternatives to smacking are plentiful, but it starts with the adult accepting that THEY need to change their attitude and mind set first. The internet is awash with alternatives to smacking – if you struggle with what to do instead of smacking, search Google! Seriously!
How can I talk about the effects of smacking on children? Because I speak from my own experience and how I have challenged my own beliefs.
Are you ready to face and challenge yours?
The details of the proposed bill are as follows:
The Public Consultation is open NOW until 4th August 2017 – please complete it here :