I was smacked as a child. It shouldn't be illegal

The debate as to whether we should smack our children has been reignited - but as long as it's reasonable, smacking does no harm.

Share
Related Topics

In my house growing up, there weren’t many punishments. My brother and I were expected to know how we ought to behave, and if we failed to do so, we’d be talked with rationally and expected to feel appropriate remorse, which my parents (correctly) judged to be deterrent enough against most wrongdoing.

I remember one occasion, though, when I was probably about 10, on a Saturday morning, when my long-suffering, stressed-out mum – who worked a 40-hour week, plus overtime, and who always had to use her weekends to clean and cook and do the laundry – was trying to hoover the lounge.

I’d been shrieking at her all morning, deliberately attention-seeking and getting in her way. Then I think I knocked over a vase (or another breakable item – although I can’t remember exactly). What I do remember is that she bellowed my name and smacked me on the wrist. It stung a little, but the thing I was most stunned by was that I’d made her so upset. It gave me pause and it's obviously stuck with me.

So it was with interest that I read Victoria Turk’s article advocating a total ban on smacking of children, following the release of a woman who’d been imprisoned for choosing to bang her two sons’ heads together. But I think this suggestion is misguided.

The view against smacking is that the law is confused and unclear; that it leaves a “grey area” which leads to some parents misinterpreting the matter and using unreasonable force. Is that really the problem? If some parents don't know when to say when, is that realistically a direct result of a lack of clarity in the law? Did the woman in this particular case, in the heat of the moment, examine her knowledge of the Children’s Act 2004 and judge that banging her two sons’ heads together constituted an acceptable smack, thus misinterpreting the law?

In the case in question, the woman caused bruising to one of the boys’ ears, which is why she found herself imprisoned for 18 months. Although clearly her method of disciplining her children crossed the line of acceptability, her prison sentence was (probably rightly) found to be disproportionate, and the woman was later released.

So is the logical next step to ban smacking altogether just for the sake of clarity? Well, why would it be? How would it be policed? How would we divert the resources to deal with a potential resulting increase in court cases? Don’t get me wrong – I think hitting your child is a poor way to discipline them, and Burk rightly notes the NSPCC’s suggestion that there are far better ways to do it. But there are a huge number of parents out there – including many hard-pressed working mums and dads with a huge amount on their plates – who occasionally smack their kids.

Do we really want to criminalise a mother who momentarily loses her cool while she’s trying to cook dinner over the noise of three shrieking toddlers, one of whom has just reached for a pan of boiling water? Say she clips him over the ear and he mentions it to a neighbour or teacher - is it alright to take her to court for it? Would it have been alright to fine or imprison my mum for slapping my wrists? It’s a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

The law is there to protect children and dole out justice. I don’t see how dragging parents who are trying their best through the courts is in their children’s interests; or in the interests of the public at large. The vast majority of mothers, fathers and carers know what the limits are.

As my mum says, “Parents are extremely provoked people. Why criminalise them unnecessarily?”

Disagree? Read the alternate view: Smacking children should be banned completely

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Marketing Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Renewable Energy compa...

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The demise of a Sixties monster

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
A CCTV camera is seen in front of a large poster opposite in central London  

Home Office is creating more powers to turn everyone into suspects – but leave us no safer

Shami Chakrabarti
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?