I have long been ambivalent about smacking children. I don’t smack my own children but I was dubious about any proposal to make smacking of children illegal.
Then two things changed my mind.
I heard a speech a couple of years ago. The speaker said that in the past a man could hit his wife, his servants, his animals and his children. Hitting children is the only one of these still allowed. This has been knocking around at the back of my head ever since. The more I think of it, the more I believe that it is never legitimate to hit a child and, really, the fact that it’s your child doesn’t matter at all.
I read an article about how we are only just starting to acknowledge and vindicate the rights of children. Just because their voices are less coherent and less audible than those of adults does not mean that their rights as human beings should be ignored. Making it illegal to assault children puts down a marker for society generally as to what is acceptable and what is not.
So, I would be in favour of making smacking children illegal including, yes, a slap across the back of the legs of a small child because he ran across the road without looking. What do you think?
Updated to add: The Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has commissioned a study on “Parents’ Perspectives on Parenting Styles and Disciplining Children” which is worth a read, if you’re feeling enthusiastic. It’s a small enough sample but for what it’s worth, some 25% of parents reported using physical punishment in the previous 12 months and 42% of respondents said that smacking should be made illegal. Interestingly, 28% of respondents thought it was illegal already.
Health warning: You would want to be enthusiastic as it runs to over 100 pages.