Excellent Aussie commentary on smacking

Parent’s love leads to disciplineJane Fynes-Clinton From: The Courier-Mail December 29, 2011
THE S-word has bobbed up again, obfuscating what is truly important, selfishly drawing attention and stealing rational decision-making. Smacking is always a contentious topic, the kind on which everyone has a view, whether they are a parent or not. But this time, tragically, it has been given more weight than love. A court has stopped a NSW couple from adopting two children, aged eight and 11, because of claims they smacked them. The couple fostered the children for four years. The birth parents are unable to look after the pair due to dreadful circumstances and Acting Justice William Windeyer told the Supreme Court in NSW the children called the foster pair Mum and Dad. They are, in practice if not in law, a family. He said the foster parents were devoted and were considered “very suitable” to adopt the children, but one child had told a psychologist he had been smacked and hit with a spoon. The judge said “such methods of discipline are not regarded as acceptable”. That these foster parents love the children as their own should be enough. That they may or may not have smacked them to discipline them should be moot. Two children have been prevented for now from having a real, permanent family because of a perception of community disapproval about smacking.

Regardless of whether or not the foster parents smacked the children, other people do. For the judge to say it is not regarded as acceptable might be true only in some quarters. But smacking has become a secret sort of discipline. Parents don’t admit doing it for fear of being labelled child abusers and violence mongers. Yet many do it, even if they are not these things. When a behaviour is forced underground, it morphs and grows. It can become dangerous. We need to be careful to keep discussion of disciplinary measures for our children out in the open…

People who condemn parents who have smacked their children as having lost control of the child-parent situation are not living in today’s real world. Children are not always rational and do not always act maturely. They do not always respond to requests, commands or appeals from a parent. The occasional smack, delivered deliberately and calmly, to take the heat out of an event or after a child has done something horrendous, brings the lesson into sharp relief for them…

The loud, periodic calls for bringing in laws against smacking are a sign of people who can no longer reason or work out what is acceptable in their own framework and rely on governments or authorities to do it for them. We don’t need all or nothing where smacking is concerned. We need to be able to work out what is suit- able discipline within our own families.


3 comments for “Excellent Aussie commentary on smacking

  1. bob
    29 December 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Sorry Bob, but this article is witless nonsense!

    Laws are just the collective morality of society. So NZ’s S59 anti-smacking law reflects the fact that NZ society does not accept parents smacking their children…. or that our politicians don’t accept smacking (even if the vast majority of Kiwis do).

    But this article starts by correctly pointing out the harsh treatment of a couple, and then degenerates into ridiculous claims that parents should just “be able to work out what is suitable discipline within our own families.” That is a recipe for abusers to get away with horrific beating of children.

    Parents are not above the law, as this article implies. Of course, lawmakers should only pass laws that have the support of the majority, which is the problem with NZ’s latest S59. But anarchic parenting is not the solution.

  2. David Hardy
    1 January 2012 at 7:12 pm

    I disagree with this. There is a huge different between and open hand smack and beating a child with a wooden spoon. ( I don’t condone either forms child discipline and beside both are illegal anyway). Beating a child with a wooden spoon is premeditated abuse and the abuse is both physical and psychological. There is the whole warning the child and leaving them in fear as the spoon is being fetch from the draw or where ever. There is the grabbing the child and holding them before beating them with the spoon and then finally the assault itself. (and that’s not to mention the hypocritical justification for their actions, that the parent displays to the child afterwards). A wooden spoon is an assault weapon and if that same “adult” was caught assaulting another adult, or even a pet dog in the same way they would be doing jail time. How can we teach our children to respect others if we as parents can not even respect our children. There are better ways to teach a child what is right from wrong, that this.

  3. Bob
    1 January 2012 at 10:58 pm

    if that same “adult” was caught assaulting another adult, or even a pet dog in the same way they would be doing jail time
    Forcing a person in to time out is also illegal. Should parents be banned from that?

    Forcing someone to load the dishwasher is illegal without their consent. Should parents be banned from that?

    Forcing someone to finish their peas or go to bed is also not allowed?

    The list goes on….

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