There have been studies over the years for and against smacking, but do we really need research to tell us whether to smack our children or not?
A *study in January by Marjorie Gunnoe, professor of psychology at Calvin College,Michigan, suggests that children who are smacked by their parents may grow up to be happier and more successful than those spared physical discipline.
On the flip side, another *study researchers from American and Canadian universities, found that smacking kids, instead of using non-physical punishments such as time-outs, reduces their emotional intelligence and ‘executive functioning ability’ which allows us to think on the spot and modify our behaviour when necessary.
So – who is right? Do these studies actually mean anything? Is smacking a good thing or should it be banned?
Smacking and the law…
In Britain, ‘mild smacking’ is permitted under a “legal reasonable chastisement” defence against common assault. The 2004 Children’s Act clarified the defence by making any hitting that causes bruising, swelling, cuts, grazes or scratches punishable with up to five years in jail. However, the prospect of parents being banned from smacking children in part of the UK has moved a step closer.
Members of the Welsh assembly have approved a call to withdraw the defence of “legal reasonable chastisement” that is currently available to parents, believing it could introduce legislation to outlaw smacking, but has ruled out doing so before 2016.
In Scotland, in 2003 the law was changed to ban hitting on the head, shaking or punishing with an implement.
I’ve worked in childcare industry for over 20 years and not once have I ever smacked a child. It’s not a simple case of not being the parent of the children I have worked with, it’s a matter of respect. I would never hurt a child, and smacking hurts.
You can glam it up in whichever way you like, but I feel smacking is a lack of control. Children can easily be disciplined with time out and from an early age introducing the word no, using a low, hard voice works wonders if used correctly.
I was in a supermarket with my littlies (1&2 years) the other day where I witnessed a mother smack her child for smacking his sibling!
‘You do not smack your brother!’ she said, laying a big smack on his bottom.
Great parenting? I think not. By smacking him herself, she simply enforced it’s perfectly ok to smack! She obviously smacks him when he’s naughty, so why can’t he smack too?
For me, discipline doesnt need to be aggressive. You don’t have to smack a child to teach them right from wrong.
Hurting children does not make them think why they behaved in a certain way, it just shocks them into thinking if they do it again they will get hurt. So how do they deal with situations in the future?
‘Time out’ gives children time to reflect and think about their actions while missing out on a fun activity. Talking to them after time out and explaining why what they did was wrong, is surely more important and better than handing out smacks? (My two posed for the picture on the left on our ‘time out step’ but B has visited the step on quite a few occasions!)
I’m happy that al the people I’ve worked with, and for, agree with my dislike of smacking children. I have never had to, and nor would I ever, smack a child. Even my own.
What about you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…
*Reports were published in The Telegraph and Guardian Jan/July 2011.