I am currently studying Childhood Studies at degree level and am aware this may sound like a bit of a flakey subject but it has turned out to be a lot more academic and a lot more challenging than I expected and I am glad of this.

It covers everything from development to sociology to psychology to physiology to policy. In a rights and entitlements module we briefly covered the issue of smacking children.

I was surprised at how many of our group, considering how many are only 18/19 years old, said they had been smacked as children AND agreed with it still. I am 4/5 years older than the majority of students on this course and was of the mindset that my generation and below are made up of children whose parents were just not allowed to smack their children.

I was never smacked as a child that I can remember and probably more importantly I was barely EVER shouted at. That might sound hard to believe but all it took was a stern look from my mother or father and a bit of a telling off and I’d run weeping into the hills.

I am proud that this is the way I was brought up and would like to think I will bring my own children up in the same way. I am probably being naive in stating that, having yet to have children of my own. It’s not to say this upbringing is without fault, now in my adult life I consider myself to be a strong person, however a raised voice over the slightest thing fills me with fear and I can cry at the click of a finger. Whether the two things are linked, I can’t be sure, but I really can’t stand the sound of shouting. Just last night I got all wobbly lipped when a customer at work confronted me over something very minor.

I wonder if my upbringing has made me slightly weaker than those who endured shouting and the odd smack? I know many people who have smacked their children and felt hideously guilty for years afterward but should they really beat themselves up about it (excuse the pun)?

Children can be extremely trying at the best of times, even my lecturer told the story of her son crossing the road and almost being hit by a car. Her immediate reaction was to hit him around the back of the legs. She then went on to explain that he was at the time, on a pedestrian crossing and holding her hand. The driver was 100% in the wrong and she was in as much danger as being hit as he was. He had done nothing wrong, she was just so overcome with emotion that she lashed out at him, leaving him horribly confused and frightened. She says she has treated him with a velvet glove EVER since. He is now in his teens and she says, much less independent than his brothers.

Section 58 of the Children’s Act 2004 attempts to limit the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ in child cruelty cases. The fault here I feel is that by even creating the ‘reasonable punishment’ defence we took two steps backward and gave parents an excuse for their behaviour.

I would be interested to hear peoples views on this, I anticipate a lot of ‘it never did me any harm’ comments but I think there is a lot more to it than that. Having no children of my own, means I sometimes feel hypocritical in saying I don’t think it is necessary or even trying to form an opinion on this matter.

What I would say is that it is becoming more and more difficult to say where the law of the parent ends and where state law should begin.

EDIT: Things to consider, if an adult hits another adult, they are charged with assault, what are we teaching children if we hit them? This is a key point that increases my belief that smacking is wrong. Also is there a huge difference in children nowadays? The school children I see now seem nothing like the child I was at school, they seem terrifyingly grown up, does this have a place in the argument?

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