According to the BBC the Welsh government is looking to outlaw the smacking of children much in the way Scotland recently has. Ministers said removing the defence of reasonable punishment would make it clear smacking was “no longer acceptable”.
All I can say on this is it’s about bloody time.
Sometimes I’m quite conservative with this blog when it comes to my opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I stand by what I say, but I always try to see things from everyone’s angle before making any judgements. But on this one, I won’t be. If you hit your children you are being a bad parent. Maybe you’re not all bad, or perhaps you’re having a bad day, I don’t want to label someone without knowing more about them, but at the end of the day hitting a child is something that you just shouldn’t do.
I’m hardly saying anything that most people don’t already know when I say that. It’s mostly conventional thought these days that you shouldn’t hit your children, research even says you shouldn’t, but I guess I’m just here to talk about why I think you shouldn’t do it. You’ve probably heard all of this before, but here are a bunch of reasons why you shouldn’t do it.
There’s Too Much Grey Area
At what age is it acceptable to start? Can you smack a one year old? When do you stop? How hard is too hard? Can someone do it for you?
That’s just a few questions, some slightly sarcastic, that lead me to believe that there’s just too much grey area surrounding this topic. Everyone has different forces in which they apply their smack, and different styles in which they enforce it. And why do you want there to be any doubt around what’s accepted, wouldn’t it be easier to just say “don’t do it”?
It’s a Poor form of Discipline
Smacking your children doesn’t instil discipline, it instils fear. Will they listen to you? Yes, of course they will. If I was to punch you every time you touched a cigarette, I’m pretty sure you’d stop smoking. Eventually your brain would make the negative association between the act of smoking and the resulting punch. That’s why people apply hitting as a form of discipline. It plays on our innate fear response to comply with obeisance.
You will get your children to listen. But what you won’t get is an open dialogue with them where they’re willing and comfortable to come to you if they’ve messed up. Instead, what you teach is to hide your mistakes better and not get caught. For me, the best form of behaviour control is simply explaining to a child why we don’t do something. Will it take longer for the message to sink in? Of course, but I would rather them understand a rule and want to follow it, than avoid doing something out of fear, or think the overall message is “just don’t get caught.”
You Can’t Replicate It Anywhere Else
When is this ever accepted anywhere else? You can’t use this form of punishment in any other walk of life. It’s not even used on criminals, but it’s acceptable for a child who didn’t want to sit still in the trolley quietly?
I can’t do it to my wife. How many people would say it’s unacceptable for me to hit my wife in the middle of an argument? Probably the vast majority of people, hopefully everyone. So what’s the difference? Yes, my wife can be reasoned with and understands me better than a child, and I don’t need to mark my authority with my wife, but that doesn’t mean you can hit your child. I think it just stems from frustration and a desire to exert control over someone smaller than you.
Good luck telling your child it was wrong to smack another child for calling them names when you smack them for something they did wrong. If I was being smacked for doing something wrong, then I wouldn’t see a problem with going out and doing it to someone else. If it happens to me, then I don’t see why I can’t do it to someone else.
Well, sometimes people do deserve a punch. And occasionally some form of violence overcomes even the best of us.
It’s About Protecting Children
Someone will always take things too far. Leaving ambiguity in a law leaves it open to abuse and misinterpretation. Why would you want someone to think that their level of force was acceptable because the law states you’re allowed to smack your child, when their level is far higher than what would actually be accepted.
Let’s just scrap the whole thing, remove all the doubt and stop children being hit. Yes, people will argue that children will be able to do what they want, or you need that threat of being hit to obtain obedience, and all the other arguments people want to put forward. All of which are silly. There are other perfectly fine forms of punishment that can work, so it’s about time we started looking at that instead of resorting to violence.
When is it ok?
I will admit, there are a handful of times where it is acceptable. If Isabelle is about to touch a flame then it’s ok for me to physically remove her hand from danger. If I’m a little over zealous and smack it away, then that’s better than letting her burn. Maybe if you train your child in the sport of MMA or boxing, then I guess there has to be some form of hitting involved in a controlled environment.
I’ll be honest, that’s about it.
Here’s the consultation documents if reading them is something that interested you.
What are your thoughts on all this? Do you smack your kids? I’ll be honest here and say that I really like to absorb myself in as many sides to an argument as possible. But I don’t really understand the other side on this one. I’m more than happy to calmly and respectfully listen to anyone’s point of view, I’ll do that on absolutely any subject, so feel free to comment on this one.