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The Forum > Article Comments > A collective approach to smacking children > Comments

A collective approach to smacking children : Comments

By Mirko Bagaric, published 12/4/2007

Both sides of the smacking debate should stop abusing the rest of us with their hysterical tantrums.

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A good thoughtful discussion of the issues. But don't hold your breath waiting for definitive empirical research on whether occasional mild smacking by parents will contribute to future behaviour problems or exemplary citizenship.
Long ago on of my revered teachers, Prof Bill Kessen, used to advocate three rules for smacking children. 1. Only on the soft part of the bum 2. Only with the palm of one's hand and never with an implement 3. Only in self defence. I took it as very practical advice as a parent.
Posted by Fencepost, Thursday, 12 April 2007 5:59:16 PM
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I agree, we need some balance put into smacking debate in both Australia and New Zealand, as it is a hot topic downunder for many concerned and caring parents. I detest violence against children in any shape or form . I am the father of twin boys and two girls and I believe all this fuss about smacking or spanking is a huge smoke screen puffed up by radical feministís hell bent on destroying the moral backbone of society. Good parents already know how to correctly manage balanced discipline with common sense judgement. Decent loving and caring parents do not - have to live in fear that authorities will uplift the children if somebody of a vindictive nature alleges smacking is a child assault. It is yet another lever for the radical feministís to put another nail in the coffin of the paternal side of the agenda bias family equation. In New Zealand we have tabled government legislation regarding anti - smacking and I can assure you it will create grey area law which will be seriously detrimental to fathers, mothers and children. Police and lawyers are confused to why there is a need for Parliament to insist on a rushed law change. There are already ample laws to protect the children, but no, the kiwi radical feministís social engineer brigade wants to demonize all parents and incarcerate all fathers. The feminist collectivists collude to promote and inflict their will upon the populace, however is it not in the childís best interests to be taught guidelines and boundaries by a mum and dad without the fear of being stereotyped as a supporter of pro violence. The radical feminists have been eroding away parental authority and I think these are the same people who throw hysteria adult tantrums, while struggling to push a huge ism up mount utopia ?
Posted by dad4justice, Thursday, 12 April 2007 6:09:24 PM
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Some kids just must be smacked some parents desperately need to be smacked more often than the kids.
Posted by Belly, Thursday, 12 April 2007 7:13:44 PM
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Mirko, I liked most of what you had to say. The basic premise is a good one (and applies to a lot of debates) - cut the extreme representations of the debate and focus on reality.

My initial impression is that I do differ on one point which stuck out to me

"If the research shows that children who are subjected to mild levels of smacking do not disproportionately experience psychological or behavioural problems, then smacking should remain permissible."

I would hope that children who are smacked exhibit lower levels of psychological or behaviouar problems than children who are disciplined without smacking otherwise smacking would appear to be unnecessary and therefore abusive.

That is more simplistic than my actual stance on the issue - the studies would somehow have to account for the temperment of the children (are parents of harder to manage children more likely to smack than parents of compliant children?) and the ability of the parents to manage other more involved forms of discipline. There are some complex issues in there which are not easily measured or weighted.

As I've suggested elsewhere we should be working to equip parents (and others) with a toolkit of discipline strategies which meets the needs of reinforcing appropriate boundaries for children. Rather than taking a tool away from parents we need to be giving them access to a wide range of appropriate tools.

The focus on smacking while paying little attention to emotional abuse (as a form of discipline) or the abuse resulting from failure to discipline appears misplaced. The focus on smacking if not balanced by information about alternative strategies also seems misplaced.

R0bert
Posted by R0bert, Thursday, 12 April 2007 8:58:31 PM
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It is not widely known that Dr Benjamin Spock, after a lifetime of lecturing parents on the evils of smacking, examined the kind of people his own children turned into and retracted everything he had said before. But I understand that by that time he was no longer writing prolifically and the record, as far as published works goes is, half a dozen enduring anti-smacking texts and some brief news items that went out with the veggie peels.

My own children have been smacked, but having been smacked once or twice have never needed it since. My nephew, on the other hand, has never been smacked and he is the most repulsive little twerp on the planet. My own children understood very clearly by age 4 that it is not appropriate to dong anyone on the head with a hard object. The little $hitbag was still doing it at age 11 and had come to learn that the only consequence of such action was the need to provide prolific excuses, lengthy negotiations and, perhaps, a feigned apology.

The focus of the research should not be limited to the behaviour of those who have been smacked. The more pressing need is to examine the violent and unconstrained behaviour, and the manipulative and disassociative behaviour of children who have never been smacked. They are nothing but scum in-waiting.
Posted by Perseus, Thursday, 12 April 2007 11:54:52 PM
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Perhaps the form punishment takes is less important than that it happens at all. Children need a warning, then if they persist in bad behaviour the consequences they were warned about should take place forthwith.

So my ideal "discipline procedure" is something like this:

1) Child performs an unacceptable act (eg big brother snatches toy from little sister)

2) Child is given a warning (eg "if you snatch a toy from your sister again you will be sent to the naughty corner")

3) Child does it again

4) Child is given exactly the punishment they were threatened with (big brother is sent to the naughty corner).

Whether it is a smack on the bottom or the naughty corner (of Supernanny fame), is probably less important than the pattern of action -> warning -> repeat of action -> consequence.

Cheers!
Posted by Rhys Probert, Friday, 13 April 2007 10:48:59 AM
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