To smack or not to smack your child when it comes to disciplinary action? A question that every parent has to deal with at some point. Corporal punishment is defined as the physical force a parent or adult guardian uses to control and correct a child’s behaviour. Generally it involves smacking a child with your hand or with an implement like a wooden spoon, egg flipper, stick, or a belt.
Quite frankly, I am sick to death of people screaming CHILD ABUSE every time a parent disciplines their child with a smack. My parents smacked me as a child from a very young age. I do not consider any of those instances of corporal punishment as child abuse. If anything, they taught me discipline, respect, and the difference between right and wrong. You best believe I thought twice about repeating the same mistakes after receiving a smack.
Thirty three countries have completely outlawed corporal punishment including New Zealand, Croatia, Finland, Denmark, Greece, The Netherlands, Kenya, South Sudan, Spain, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Venezuela. In the USA it is legal for parents to physically discipline their children as long as it is “reasonable force”. Nineteen US states still allow teachers in schools to paddle children as a means of discipline.
In Australia 69% of parents still smack their kids and Australia is in a similar position to the US. All Australian states allow for parents to use “reasonable force” when disciplining a child. New South Wales is the only state that defines this: “Corporal punishment that results in bruising, marking or other injury lasting longer than a 24 hour period may be deemed as unreasonable and thus classified as physical abuse”. The UN committee on the rights of children has recommended Australia abolish the rights of parents to use disciplinary reasonable force.
There is a clear distinction between abuse and discipline. A smack with an open hand is perfectly acceptable provided it doesn’t leave a mark. It should not result in a doctor’s visit or hospitalization. The smack should not hurt much. The shock of the smack is what the child should be affected by. Smacking your child will teach them about consequences.
Adults that do the wrong thing face consequences if they are caught. They may get a fine or, to a more serious extent, a prison sentence. Smacks teach them that they are not invincible and will receive punishment for doing something wrong. This is the beginning of a lesson that will enforce the knowledge that there is a higher authority that we all have to abide by in society.
Legislating on this matter will be extremely difficult to enforce. A parent that saves its child from danger by an impulsive smack will be punished. For example, a mother or father impulsively smacking their child when the child gets too close to the flames of a stove. Should that be legally punished for saving their child from being scalded?
If pain or torment that comes from parental verbal threats and physical discipline such as smacking is offset by a child’s feeling of being loved. Corporal punishment is unlikely to cause any negative effects as long as the child knows that the discipline is coming from a place of love.
Australia’s College of Physicians has called for corporal punishment to be made illegal. It has stated that it is not safe and there is no proof that it improves child development. Corporal punishment has a number of social, physical and mental health consequences and is not an effective form of discipline.
I’m highly doubtful that reasonable force would cause the above issues. We have a socially wayward and problematic youth generation in Australia because many of them were not disciplined as children.
Discipline, including reasonable force style corporal punishment, should start as early as possible. You can’t just begin discipline when they are teenagers and driving you crazy. Many Aussies raise their children like they are their mates (buddies). There is nothing wrong with being a friend to your child among other things. Raising a child as a buddy means that their is little to no discipline and fewer reasons to actually be the parent.
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