As I’m sure you’re aware, smacking children is now illegal in Scotland. And bearing in mind the paramount importance of protecting all children from violence of any sort, on face value, it is a most welcome ruling.
However, part of me is a little concerned by the possible ramifications.
Two questions continue to cause me concern.
1. Could this law lead to an inevitable breakdown in discipline and behaviour of future generations?
2. Should the state interfere to such an extent?
Physical violence of any sort between adults is something I vehemently detest and find wholly and utterly unacceptable; let alone adults on children. So, in terms of eradicating the scourge of children being violently abused by parents, this law is an absolute God-sent!
During a conversation with friends and relatives on Friday evening (in truth, more like a full-fledged debate), my aunt made the following statement;
“I appreciate the reasoning behind the law, and in truth I support it. But I can’t help wondering whether it will further widen the class divide.”
A tad startled by this statement, I asked her to elaborate.
“Look, let’s be honest, this law was passed to protect children in less privileged neighbourhoods. And I really couldn’t agree more. Those children do need to be protected. But the reality is indiscipline and bad behaviour will increase, which inevitably leads to less children fulfilling their potential. Flip the coin, and you find the middle to upper class continuing to make sure their children are disciplined and well behaved in order to ensure they do fulfill their potential. The end-result is a widening class divide.”
Somewhat bemused, I decided to do a little research to test her theory. And what better way than to assess the opinions of two newspapers from opposite sides of the spectrum, so to speak – Telegraph and The Guardian.
According to a national survey of its readers, 11% of Telegraph readers support the ‘no smacking’ law, 57% oppose it, and 12% are on the fence.
Furthermore, in her article on 6th October, Lucy Denyer, writing for the Sunday Telegraph, surmised;
“Smacking is nasty, brutish and ineffective – but it shouldn’t be banned.”
The Guardian Newspaper on the other hand, is one hundred percent in favour of the law, stating;
‘By making it illegal to “smack” children, the Scottish parliament has set an example for the rest of the UK, as well as countries around the world that have yet to legislate in this area.’
Two contrasting views indeed!!
I asked a few of my contacts the following question on Saturday morning;
‘What is your view on Scotland’s court ruling that bans parents from smacking their kids?’
Here’s what they had to say.
1. “Well I believe we should discipline kids as parents which include training up a child in the way he or she should go so that they do not depart from it even when they are old. This includes the form of discipline needed and appropriate for the age of the child”
2.“I can see why they may have done it; however, I don’t agree with it. A good hard smack is required sometimes; god my brother used to get a right slap from my mum, never my dad though. My mum was liberal with her slaps, but the trouble is abuse, and I can see where with some families the risk is so high for children.”
3.“There are so many other laws that need to be put in place – but then if laws are to somehow represent our values as society, fine, but ask a policeman or woman and they will roll their eyes and say “really?” – arresting someone for smacking their kids? What a misuse of scarce police resource! I am sounding like a Tory on this and I am not a Tory; at least not at the moment!!!!”
4.“ hmmm… the thing is that parents haven’t been able to smack their kids for a long time. My kids would have a six-month smack – sometimes it was the only way with boys to communicate that they had overstepped the mark. Didn’t happen very often but they then knew that I’d had enough and that it wasn’t ok”
5.“Irrelevant. People will do what they want in their own homes. If there are people unfortunately abusing their kids, then a ruling won’t stop them.”
6.“It’s the law now even if I don’t agree with it. My opinion? kids needs it but in moderation and not to be misused.”
7.“I hadn’t heard that new law. To be honest I thought it was already banned. When I was on holiday this man smacked his daughter (she was about 3) I really really had to hold myself back from saying something. I don’t judge people as everyone is different and have reasons for doing things or parenting.”
8. “I have two points of view. On one hand, I was smacked as a kid, and every time I was on the point of calling social services on my mum, I never did, because I knew she did it out of love. I knew she didn’t do it maliciously. She did it to whip me into shape.
But then if you asked me if I would hit my child, my answer is a big ‘no’. So maybe the law is a good one. But equally, it’s a cultural thing. It’s the society my mum was brought up in, so that’s how she raised me. I don’t think they should have a right to ban that.
On the other hand, why should kids be hit?? We should be able to discipline our children without having to hit them. If we’re hitting kids as a means of punishment, then what are we teaching them??”
anything wrong in smacking a well-padded bottom when pushed to the limit.
Does not make you a bad parent, and should you be prosecuted for that??
Preposterous to even fathom!”
I rather agree with the notion that if one raises his /her kids well, there should be no need for smacking at all. What children need most is love, encouragement, affirmation, and good guidance. There may of-course be times when one has to lay down the law (with love, and for the good of one’s child). Different parents will handle such situations in their own ways, depending on factors ranging from culture to belief systems to values.
In terms of protecting the rights of our children, the Scottish ruling is an excellent one. But I can’t help feeling concerned by the state’s interference in genuinely well-meaning parents’ rights to, well, parent.