Smacking to be banned

In the press currently there are a number of articles on smacking or not smacking children following the Trade Union Congress (TUC) mention of new research on this.[1] Smacking is to be banned in Scotland. Do you think it should be? Personally, I think smacking should not be necessary to discipline a child. However, in my role as mother I do vividly remember tapping the kids on the hand when they were small to stop them touching something they shouldn’t or to remind them not to do something that I had told them not to do until I was blue in the face!

Member of The Association of Educational Psychologists national executive committee, John Drewicz said “Sixty countries already have full bans, including Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Germany and Portugal, and it is time to make violence against children illegal in the UK in all settings, including the home.”[2] So is it time to ban smacking in Britain and if it isn’t then how to we give consistent messages from one country to another, let alone how to do handle the fact we may be arrested for smacking overseas on holiday when it’s currently legal at home? It’s a complete minefield. Even in the office there are different views on this. No wonder the internet is going crazy on this one!

When I was small I do remember being smacked over the hands at the age of 5 because I did not fold my hands on the desk properly after completing my writing work. And that wasn’t all that long ago as I was born in the 1960s. My hands had marks for week and were very sore. It was not that I had done my work wrong. I was not talking. I was not misbehaving. I just didn’t do EXACTLY what the teachers had asked that we do in technique of hand placing at the end of the task. So things have moved on a lot since then in schools at least.

I remember being very scared of parents who raised their voice if we misbehaved but do not recall being punished with smacking in the house. Then when I had children and I found it hard to discipline 3 boys I remember reading a number of articles and books. I was also a big fan of supernanny on the TV. The supernanny site gives information on how to discipline without raising your voice and without smacking[3] Remember that smacking sets a bad example. Smacking shows how you should behave as an adult. Kids copy what they see.

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I have seen parents screaming and smacking their children in the supermarket and in the street and looking at the child who is absolutely petrified. I think that’s wrong. I do totally believe that children WILL remember that the rest of their lives and it could have psychological effects that are longer lasting. I mean, I remember that feather duster smack across the hands at school even now (and I mean not the feather end but the cane end).

However, is there a difference between a tap on the hands to stop repeated offending and a right ongoing onslaught on a child? What do you think? I think a tap on the hand to avert danger or continued misbehaviour is not a big issue. I guess the question is where does the line fall, who polices where that line is and who polices just what is a tap and what is a smack? In that final question I think we have the answer. The only way to do it is to have an outright ban and then there is no argument about what should be done.

So what now? The law is passed and you see someone in the street smacking a child? Do you or don’t you intervene and in what way? Is the general public going to phone the police for every person they see in town smacking a child and the overworked police be inundated by calls? I think this could be a problem but perhaps as it is outlawed no one will do it for risk of being arrested and therefore finally it will stop? Well, let’s see.






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