Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Smack Heads

Yesterday the House of Lords wimped out of passing a law which would ban 'smacking of children' totally in the United Kingdom. The UK is now one a small number of European countries in which this practice is still legal. And we consider ourselves first world. What kind of country do we live in when the people who determine the legal framework in which we exist allow for children to effectively be assaulted by their parents?

If you smacked any other person than a child then you would be charged with a level of assault, so why is it legal for a parent to assault a child? Because theyre related? Because they are deemed to know whats best for their children?

There is a lemonade based compromise, the alcohol free version bestowed by the Whisky brigade. Parents can mete out their own form of discipline as long as marks arent shown on the childs body. A loophole in other words, ready, waiting and able to be exposed. A blind eye turner. Parents can hit their children as long as their are no bruises, cuts and scratches. So it's ok to hit a child up until the point when they bruise - then not after?

Its a form of progress i suppose, but it still allows for harm to be inflicted on the people we are supposed to love, cherish and care for. They havent done that much wrong surely. How can any civilised person think thats normal behaviour?

I'm not a parent, and havent been in situation that requires parental involvement, maybe thats why i come at it from this angle. Ive witnesses children being smacked though and in all situations it was about the parents temper threshold rather than anything the child had done deserving of a smacking.

Smacking children nowadays is done by the parents who dont know how to deal with indiscipline any other way. Its the lazy way out, an excuse to not finding out the cause of bad behaviour in their own family. Licensing it wont teach anyone any different. The children OR the parents.

Surely we have progressed as a society enough to have this prehistoric form of punishment banished to the dark ages. Surely we've learnt enough about parenting as a race to be able to run a household without the heavy hand of punishment hovering over the family.

Some people will summon up the excuse that 'a smack never did me any harm' . It probably didnt do the vast majority of people any harm, but it will have done a few people here and there some harm in both a) the physical scars they bore from the lawful beatings they had to take in the name of discipline and b) the mental scars they take into their adult lives and then interpret as they see fit as parents of their own children. This generations smacked are the next generations smackers. And so on. Where does it stop? Outlawing it helps everyone.

Children today ARE lacking in the discipline of their predecessors, of that there is no question. And the world is arguably a more violent place, this is more about the lifestyle we have. Allowing parents to continue smacking children will not improve things. Parents should be able to talk to their offspring without resorting to hitting them when things go wrong. We are giving out the wrong message in how to conduct ourselves to our children.