Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Is smacking wrong?

There has been a lot of debate recently about whether smacking children is child abuse, or a way of teaching your children right from wrong. Is smacking necessary, and should it be used as a final warning?

is smacking ok?

 The arguments

The arguments against smacking are that it inflicts unnecessary pain on young children, and can be abusive. I remember my father smacking me, once, when I was little. I don't remember why he smacked me, but he was very angry when he did it. I remember being scared and very upset. I think if people are going to argue that smacking is ok, it can only be done when people aren't angry. I was more scared by the fact that he was really mad at me, and then smacking me, than if he had done it calmly. To a child the person smacking is an aggressive person much bigger than themselves. It brings on feelings of helplessness and is fairly traumatic. 

I read this quote on pro-smacking website. It was trying to refute the myth that children are the only members of society not protected from smacking by law. It stated 

"If my wife was to smack me for some gross misdemeanor there is no policeman or court in the land that would do anything about it." (here)

This is completely different to smacking a child. In most cases the male in a relationship is bigger than the female. If a man smacked a woman, people would make a fuss. Children are smaller than women and find it more difficult to rationalise.

Do we need to smack?

I have friends with children, and I remember one friend telling me about her daughter touching the radiator. She had told her not to do it because it's hot. The little girl still insisted on crawling (or scooting) over to the radiator and trying to touch it. In the end, my friend decided just to let her do it. The child touched the radiator, realised the radiator burned her fingers, and didn't do it again.

My friend could have smacked her child instead of letting her touch the radiator, but she didn't, and the child learned her lesson without having to see her mother as a scary bringer of punishment. It still resulted in the child feeling pain and learning a lesson though, so is smacking any different?

In the above situation the pain was the reason not to touch the radiator, and was part of the lesson. Not all situations result in physical pain if the rules aren't obeyed: perhaps you are trying to teach your child not to snatch from other children, or they have broken an expensive item of furniture. I still think punishing them by smacking comes from anger and that it should be avoided.

Effects of smacking

Is there long term damage from smacking? I was smacked, once, and I don't think it's affected me, but I do remember those feelings of upset, and the place where it happened. The one time probably didn't have a big impact, but if I had been smacked regularly, I probably would have associated this with the parent who did the smacking. The fact I remember the incident so clearly does show it felt significant to me at the time, despite being around 7.

Should we be smacking them?

I don't think we should be smacking our children. I don't think we should be treating it as child abuse either, as people do have different views from myself. The only time I can logically see smacking as an answer is if a child is repeatedly disobeying the parent and the parent is calm and explains the reasons they are being smacked. Even then, it still feels wrong. I wouldn't slap my child round the face, so why is slapping it somewhere else ok? It just doesn't sit well with me.

What do you think?

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