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Smacking children
marymary100 - 20-10-2017 at 13:59

Scotland is about to ban the smacking of children by their parents. My father at lunch asked me my opinion earlier and I waxed lyrical about how I had never hit my daughter and didn't believe that any child should be hit. He took me aback when he said that they had never hit me. Now, I was regularly smacked by my mother so either she did it but didn't tell him or his memory of events is fading.

Do you think parents should be able to physically chastise their children?

John_Little - 20-10-2017 at 14:32

Not as a general rule. I was smacked and I have lightly smacked ours when they did something dangerous or frightening for us.

I think there are boundaries but not everyone knows where they are. But then we had two boys who were adventurous and prone to push the envelope. I don't know to be honest. But I'm not sure about making any physical discipline illegal.

Badgergirl - 20-10-2017 at 14:37

I'm torn.

Arguing *against* the ban is, in effect saying "But I wanna hit children" and nobody wants to be that guy.

But it's more complicated than that and always will be.

I can report not one single emotional scar from having been smacked as a kid and I resent the implications by some who would argue against the ban that the act is inherently abusive.

But it's so open to abuse that it's impossible to know exactly where to draw the line.

JackInCT - 20-10-2017 at 15:58

It is NOT at all impossible to draw a line--the classic "evidence" is a bruise (and a "welt" is an even more ominous sign), and multiple bruises are way over the line.

Having said that, it can be, and sometimes is, impossible to pinpoint the origins (culprit) of the bruise [such as multiple culprits], as well as the origin of multiple bruises; supposedly a qualified medical person can estimate how old (time frame wise) a bruise is, to include expertise relative to the age of the child as to how a bruise presents itself. Once a doctor charts a bruise, and his/her suspicions of its origins/time frame/etc., all is lost re stemming the tide of guilt. AND if the doctor orders x-rays to examine the possibility of bone damage from previous "episodes", things are going downhill at lightening speed.

I leave it to your imagination what socio-economic classes are most likely to find themselves in such a situation.

When asking the victim, the child, what's been going on, you face the inevitable suspicion that the child is incapable of telling the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; AND that would include a child using a bruise as a vendetta situation against his/her parent(s)/care giver.

Speaking of foster parent(s), they are in a veritable no-mans land re ALL accusations of "endangering". Yes, most fosters would have access to appeal if their license (to provide) care was suspended/removed, but they might as well write a letter to Santa for all the good an appeal would do.

Lastly, the most ominous consequence of such a law would be in the area of citizen-state relationships. A great many citizens feel that the "state" is always overstepping its authority, that the legislative process is a joke, and it imposes "its will" on private citizens on matters that the STATE has no business being involved in. I leave it to your imagination as to just how a citizen can retaliate against BIG BROTHER.

LSemmens - 21-10-2017 at 00:49

FYI, I was smacked as a kid, and my kids were, too. But, it was always in response to a particularly inappropriate behaviour. We always explained why they were being smacked and there have been no ill effects as a result.

Now that's out of the way. I can understand the rationale behind such a ban. Sadly we must legislate against the lowest common denominator which means the rest of us have to put up with "stupid laws" which, a normal, rational, person would not need. This one, especially, is going to be a nightmare to administer and police. e.g. Johnny does not get his way so runs to the police and accuses mum and/or dad of abuse. One of our kids tried it in their teens, and the coppers also gave him a good talking to and sent him home, suitably mollified. With a law like this, we could have been locked up trying to prove our innocence.

I'm with your thinking BG.

JackInCT - 21-10-2017 at 02:56

In news from the home front, the local rag is reporting that yesterday (10/19) 10 students at a local high school were arrested for fighting during the school day on the school grounds/inside the bldg. The arrests were made by the local PD personnel who were called (the rag being what it is, didn't report who made the call, but ALL calls to local emergency services, i. e., police, fire, etc., are a matter of public record); but not likely that will ever be reported by this paper.

No one wound up at the hospital, although a pix of the exterior of the school showed a parked ambulance.

This high school, as well as the other high schools in this town, have been the scene of fights for decades-both on and off grounds. They are all rated as 'poor performing' schools via some sort of achievement test.

The paper will of course not report what these youths parents/caregivers did when these youths returned home.

School expulsion/suspensions/etc. are very formal due process type events.

To make a bad situation worse, all these schools are pawns in intracity racial accusations dynamics to include gangs that have upped this years city homicide rate to 22 souls, i. e., EVERYONE is clueless as to what to do, and have been for generations, but it sure seems no one is willing to take the blame for any, at all, failures to include accountability.

Worthy of note is that the local rag never mentions how many of the town's youth are in some sort of a juvenile detention facility. Incareration is, lets put it this way, 'frowned upon' by the state's highest elected public officials.

Nor does the local paper ever report how many children have been removed from their homes by the state's child welfare agency; that would include how many children in the school system are living in some sort of a foster care arrangement.

Ditto re how many school age youth are in some form of drug rehab to include inpatient residence.

Parents who 'spank' tend to have little grasp of a graduated response system to serious breaches of normative behavior, and that's especially true of their teenager children, i. e., attempts at some sort of an empirical understanding of parental discipline practices, tend to conclude that parents copy the same "system" that their own parents used.

marymary100 - 21-10-2017 at 08:23

Therein lies the rub of course. In Scotland belting children at school was the norm for decades until it was banned in the 80s. Most teachers who were used to this way of disciplining found the transition hard but learned new strategies such as punishment exercises, detention, alternative break schedules, isolation etc. We now have grandparents of children we teach not having been physically chastised at school who might smack their own children/grandchildren. So they haven't learned over time that there are other ways of dealing with things.

I would say, from personal experience, that a smack is over-the-top if it leaves a mark in the immediate aftermath. Moreover, if you wouldn't do it to a stranger in the street who could retaliate why would you do it to a child who can not?

My favourite parental story of home discipline was a very out of control young man who regularly threw things, including furniture, at school and everyone was scared of him. He was heading down the path of criminality. He returned home one day to find that he had lost EVERYTHING that had been in his bedroom, including the door. The first thing he earned back was a blanket, the next the mattress until he eventually got his door back. He learned that his behaviour was unacceptable and to keep his "rage" under control.

JackInCT - 21-10-2017 at 13:24

Originally posted by marymary100
.... who could retaliate why would you do it to a child who can not?..

"Can not"??? Your world, and its culture is totally different from one that I live in. A teacher hitting a child/youth (even a fairly young one) would result in some incidence of turning into a brawl--it's impossible to guess as to how often that would occur, to include whether there would be a higher incidence in ghetto/inner city schools.

Lost in all of this re school violence [and spanking is a form of violence] is the incidence of neurologically impaired children [whatever definition a school system really uses is not subject to accountable level scrutiny], and NOT only regarding the children on the severe end of the continuum who are the 'easiest' to 'spot' [AND NOT because that many schools system are really all that eager to 'find' even the most obvious 'cases'. Many big city school systems have only a couple of educational psychologists to do formal testing [educational psychologists have a lower level of academic credentials than clinical psychologists-read "cheaper" salary levels].

Once upon a time a teacher said to me, 'if pursued to its logical conclusion, just about all children would meet the criteria for being eligible for a special education program placement'. She wasn't kidding, and having witnessed first hand how financial realties really drive the system, I agree with her. In my experience many, many teachers cannot bring themselves to realize/grasp that the behavior that they are witnessing on a daily, consistent basis is a child/youth with significant behavioral disturbances that in some clinically oriented setting would result in a formal diagnosis of 'emotionally disturbed' (with/without a presenting neurological basis) [AKA socially maladjusted in some quarters--doesn't sound so threatening re just who the 'culprits' might be that "caused" that, but parents are real good at understanding "school speak"]. Without exaggeration, a formal diagnosis of 'emotionally disturbed' is nothing less than the proverbial 'kiss of death' re the staff's expectations/standards of achievement/etc.,. There are some teachers, few and far between, who are as good a therapist as anyone working in a formal child/youth psychiatric center [aka historically, especially in the eastern USA as 'child guidance centers'].

marymary100 - 21-10-2017 at 16:21


Alternative Scottish viewpoint


This ban smacks of pandering to the middle-class dilettantes


There are good reasons why the proposed ban on smacking is not supported by the overwhelming majority of people. It carries the risk of depleting the resources of already hard-pressed social workers in their attempts to deal with real abuse of vulnerable children. If this act of Scottish Government folly were an isolated one it would beggar belief but we have been here before with this Government in its crazy obsession with the ludicrous and unworkable Named Persons Scheme and its Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.

Is Holyrood genuinely unable to differentiate between normal, law-abiding parents gently chastising their children – often over matters relevant to their health and safety – and the actions of violent adults and child abusers? The law as it stands on protecting children from abuse is good and it works. To distort it under pressure from a boutique and inconsequential political party none of whose members has ever been democratically elected to Holyrood is sinister.
Like many other well-meaning and concerned liberals (my God, there is nothing that doesn’t concern us), I’ve been silently and helplessly appalled in supermarket queues watching some wretched and harassed mum hit her children while yelling obscenities at them. We want to intervene and afterwards, in self-loathing introspection, we reproach ourselves for having failed to do so. Rarely do we consider the chaotic circumstances in which many young and rough-looking parents may be forced to operate. They may be single mums left alone to bring up their children by a nameless father. Benefit sanctions by the Department of Work and Pensions, low-waged jobs and the ever-present threat of homelessness or coping with a drug or alcohol-addicted partner form a daily cocktail of jeopardy and despair.
So they may not have read the latest good-parenting guide issued by some Sanhedrin of middle-class behavioural specialists. They may still be trying to work out why the Government’s nice baby boxes include three packets of condoms and a poem. ...

JackInCT - 21-10-2017 at 17:09

"gently chastising their children"???? Whaaaat?? To begin with I feel that I have a right to know what the empirical evidence is that "gentle chastisement" is effective on either a short or long term basis. I presume that the proposed legislation would not allow the "gentle" to ESCALATE to something more "drastic" physically.

In an effort to stem man's inhumanity to man, regardless of age, gender, country of origin, etc., let me set the stage for that for an application in a school environs, and so let's introduce digital tech into the picture.

Instead of ever using ANY degree of physical force of striking a blow type on a recaletrant youth, let's use an electric cattle prod type device with, a la Star Trek, an ability to automatically regulate the discharge [via a Google voice type tech re the name of the perceived offender-their age, weight, known medical conditions, etc., would set the voltage discharge). In addition the prod would be in communication with the "enforcer's" smart phone and record, as a matter of public record, the voltage of the shock, the duration, etc.,. And to maximize the "integrity" of the enforcer, the enforcer would ALWAYS have to wear, while at school, one of those police type body cameras, and of course the vid would be stored in perpetuity. Oh yes, there's more: any child zapped would have that incident with all the particulars sent off immediately via the smart phone to the child's parent smart phone. You can't have any more accountability to avoid abuse/overreaction/punishment fitting the "crime", etc., than that now can you? Well maybe you can, and should.

LSemmens - 22-10-2017 at 01:11

It's easy to sort out. We euthanase animals that are out of control.......

Just saying! waggyfinger

John_Little - 22-10-2017 at 09:53

I'm with Jack on the use of cattle prods. Excellent idea.