A wake-up call for parents who smack their children

by Bernadette Saunders & Bronwyn Naylor
Physical punishment, even when it’s called “discipline” or “smacking”, can inflict both short- and long-term harm on children.

Most parents want what's best for their children. But when it comes to discipline, some misguidedly use physical force to punish or intimidate. Let's be clear: hitting and unnecessarily hurting children is never justified and is never okay.

The Australian government has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). In other words, Australia recognises as people with rights. So it's time for governments in Australia to join the 33 enlightened countries in the world, including New Zealand, and ban the of children in all settings, including the child's home.

A successful ban on physical punishment of children must also be accompanied by a campaign to support and educate parents to change their outdated attitudes about "smacking".

Harms of physical punishment

Physical punishment, even when it's called "discipline" or "smacking", can inflict both short- and long-term harm on children. We now know, through rigorous research, that there are associations between physical punishment and the adoption of aggressive and violent behaviours, impaired mental health, and other and disadvantages.

Even without the , we intuitively know that hitting and unnecessarily hurting people affects warm and . Our children are the adults of the future. How we treat our children today will affect their health, self-esteem, and sense of well-being.

Changing behaviour

Australia has been at the forefront of many public health reforms such as in cars, and , but we're yet to see a similar wake-up call on physical punishment.

But how do you get parents to change their behaviour – to stop "smacking" their children?

Metro Trains' recent, highly successful animated public education campaign, titled Dumb Ways To Die, is a good example of how an can help change outdated attitudes and risk-taking behaviours. In this case, it promotes rail safety to young people via ads in newspapers, on radio, billboards, throughout the Metro Trains network and on Tumblr.

The campaign aims "to engage an audience that really doesn't want to hear any kind of safety message". As Metro Trains' marketing manager explains, the campaign:

…is designed to draw people to the safety message…We want to create a lasting understanding that you shouldn't take risks around trains, that the prospect of death or serious injury is ever-present.

An education campaign such as this, with supports and incentives to encourage parents to adopt positive disciplinary methods, may be what is needed to change the outdated attitudes and risk-taking behaviours of parents.

Such a campaign could be both hard-hitting and inspiring; portraying the immediate and possible impacts of physical punishment through words and pictures. It could also provide important information about normal childhood development, and positive ways to interact with, and to set reasonable boundaries for, children.

In Sweden, corporal punishment and other humiliating treatment of children were banned in 1979, and pamphlets were provided to every household with children, and information on milk cartons also told people about the reform and encouraged discussions between parents and children.

The result? Most modern Swedish families practice positive, non-violent discipline. Children are respected, and parents are valued and supported in their important role as models for their children.

Changing the law

Some responsible adults will willingly modify their attitudes and behaviours in light of evidence that motivates desirable change. But sometimes behavioural change only occurs in response to legislation or law reform.

Amending the relevant legislation in each of Australia's states and territories to explicitly remove the "lawful correction" defence to assault will send a clear message to parents that physical punishment is no longer an excusable form of discipline or control of children. Children will then have the same protection from assault afforded to adults.

Both police discretion and the "de minimis" principle (which discards trivial matters) will guard against the criminalisation of parents who occasionally "smack" their children but physical punishment will be strongly discouraged. Positive changes in attitudes and behaviour will take time, education and parental support.

Giving children a voice

Hitting and unnecessarily hurting children degrades all children who live in societies that allow children to be treated in this way. When given an opportunity to comment on physical punishment, children have said it hurts them physically and emotionally.

At the same time, children empathise with parents who are tired and stressed and who lash out at them in anger, and they understand but question parents' belief that hitting children teaches them positive lessons in how to behave.

Parents have expressed regret for having resorted to hitting their children – they would prefer to use alternative means of discipline that don't result in anger, tears and resentment. In extreme cases, parents' regrets are futile as their children have been seriously injured – and even killed – when their "physical punishment" has gone tragically wrong.

As children are the recipients of physical punishment, their comments on this issue are often refreshingly candid. As one eight-year-old child said,

Since adults are older, they think they know most stuff but sometimes they don't…sometimes they're mistaken.

Another suggested that adults do not "have to smack because you can choose".

Encouraging children to speak about issues such as "smacking", and listening to what they say, ought to prompt us to question our out-dated perspectives. We may even finally accept that, as a 12 year-old commented:

…you shouldn't hit people because there's a better way…than hurting someone.

The physical punishment of children will continue to be tolerated and defended until responsible, enlightened adults recognise that children are not lesser beings than adults.

Children have human rights to the dignity and respect afforded to other people and they deserve at least equal, if not greater, legal protection from assault. It should no longer be defended.

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loneislander
2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 06, 2013
Important subject and, fwiw, I agree - kids shouldn't be hit (by words or hands) ever.

But, when I read an article on a science website (and I come here to 'escape' from the mind-numbing "journalism" elsewhere) and I see the sentence, "So it's time for governments in Australia to join the 33 enlightened countries in the world, including New Zealand, and ban the physical punishment of children in all settings, including the child's home.", then I expect the phrase "So it's time" to be backed (already) by the weight of whatever evidence is available.

In fact what I really expect is that sentences which begin "So it's time" will be left in the other sphere.

This is a good article that seems to have been written under the influence of No Editor (or hormones).
freethinking
1.7 / 5 (12) Aug 06, 2013
You should never punish out of anger. Spanking is an effective means of discipline. Because it is so effective and quick, taking it away actually increases child abuse, as the longer a confrontation continues, the more frustration a parent has.

But since it is in Big Governments best interest to destroy the family, as a destroyed family requires Big Government involvement, the Progressives who run it will do everything in its power to destroy the family. Criminalizing discipline, jailing parents who want to do what is best for their children.

Shootist
2 / 5 (8) Aug 06, 2013
Read "The Red Pony". Know that the School Teacher and the Bullwhip was not purely anecdotal.

The civilization that bullwhip created? It was better than any civilization that has come before, or since. Space the rod, spoil the child.

You want proof? Look around at the children raise up by the light hand of Dr. Spock. How did that work out for us?
TheGhostofOtto1923
2 / 5 (6) Aug 06, 2013
"You should never punish out of anger. Spanking is an effective means of discipline. Because it is so effective and quick, taking it away actually increases child abuse, as the longer a confrontation continues, the more frustration a parent has"

-Yeah I can imagine you were smacked quite a bit as a child.
Sinister1811
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2013
I disagree. Today's young and disrespectful generation should be a wake up call for parents who don't. Have we not seen enough of an increase in juvenile offenders?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Aug 07, 2013
"People who as children experienced the "powerlessness" of frequent spankings...seem more prone to violence themselves. In a study of 45,000 ninth-graders Mr Pfeiffer conducted in 2007-08, those kids who had been beaten by their parents were five times as likely to commit repeated crimes or to use cannabis, and missed school four times more frequently for ten days a year or more.
Scandinavian countries, in part inspired by the children's books of Astrid Lindgren, the author of the popular Pippi Longstocking (pictured) series, were the first to make spanking illegal for teachers in the 1950s and 60s. Between 1979 und 1983, they also outlawed spanking by parents. Crime rates...have been falling since.
By contrast, spanking is still common in large parts of America, especially in the Evangelical milieus of Southern states...(America's incarceration rate is between eight to ten times that of northern European countries.)
Cont>
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2013
"Within Europe, countries like Germany followed the Scandinavian example with a law against spanking in 2000, while others, like Britain, fall somewhere between Europe and America (as so often). Again, Mr Pfeiffer notices the expected correlations with crime and punishment.
Mr Pfeiffer also observes a connection between religion and child-spanking..."

-And as we all know, the vast majority of inmates were raised in religious families and profess to be religious themselves.

Parents who hit their kids teach them that the best way to win arguments and influence people is with your fist. Often hitting them is the only way of disrupting their reasoning when they question the bible or similar nonsense.

It is the way we train any animal to do things which are against their nature. To fear those they depend on for sustenance. Fearing the one you are supposed to love is central to any religion and of slavery. This is how the will is broken, essential to enabling others to think for you.
freethinking
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 08, 2013
Otto, you are wrong. Children know the difference between hitting and spanking, at least my children do. (Maybe because they are smarter than progressive children), and my children have been taught not to hit.

Also, it is a well established fact that the vast majority of criminals would, or have voted for democrats.
freethinking
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 08, 2013
When I walk into a classroom I can tell within 5-10 minutes who has been raised in the Dr. Spock or Love and Logic way, and who has been raised traditionally.

The Spock and/or Love and Logic kids, no discipline, selfish, and uncaring.
The traditionally raised children, disciplined and caring.

I've had so many parents comment that all of my children how well behaved they were, how caring. Most of the time it seems, my kids behave better away from home than at home.

Yet I've met a lot of parent who say how wonderful their children are, yet when I observe their children, they are the bullies, I've seen them turn to drugs and become thugs. Must be the Progressive Blinders.

All Kids need and WANT discipline. Spanking in it's place is an effective form of discipline, as is groundings, standing in a corner, being sent to their room, missing dinner, etc. ANY form of discipline done in anger or excess is abuse.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Aug 08, 2013
"Children know the difference between hitting and spanking...my children have been taught not to hit"

-So hitting is good if it is on one part of the body and not the other? You mean it somehow hurts less on one part than another? If you hit another adult on the butt wouldnt you be facing assault charges??

"When I walk into a classroom I can tell within 5-10 minutes who has been raised in the Dr. Spock or Love and Logic way, and who has been raised traditionally."

-You only think this way because you were trained not to think at a very young age. You only think this way because you are an unthinking bigot. Science tells us that kids who hit are predisposed to criminal behavior. Read the links or stay stupid.

"...observe their children, they are the bullies, I've seen them turn to drugs and become thugs"

-See this is how bigots do science. 'From my personal experience...this is the way the world works...' 'My parents spanked me and I turned out alright'

No you didnt.
JohnGee
2.2 / 5 (10) Aug 08, 2013
You only think this way because you were trained not to think at a very young age.

This pretty much sums up every piece of bullshit that flies out of FreepTwink's mouth.

I've got to wonder what Eastern European hell hole he came out of. No way he's from Western Europe. No way he's not white. Grandpa probably got sent to the gulag for not pulling his weight, ruined daddy's life, and daddy filled poor FreepTwink's head with Randian uber-mensch bullshit.
freethinking
1.8 / 5 (10) Aug 08, 2013
Otto, you don't even like children so what do you care. If you cared about kids, volunteer at a school and you will see the same thing, hear the same thing from teachers.

Actually hitting with the same force on one part of the body does hurt less than others. I'm a martial artist, so I know I kill can kill or cripple a person with a hit to the right part of the body, that on most parts of the body a person wouldn't flinch. For example a slap to the face is much more distracting and painful than a slap on the arm. A slap to the groin much more effective than a slap to the face. A good punch to the arm might leave a bruise, but the same punch to the back of the skull will kill.

JohnGee
1.5 / 5 (8) Aug 08, 2013
"I'm a martial artist, so I know I kill can kill or cripple a person with a hit to the right part of the body"

Like I said, uber-mensch bullshit.
freethinking
1.4 / 5 (10) Aug 08, 2013
JohnGee, my kids are taught to think. We have a motto in our house which is prove all things.

I just finished moving one of my children across the country to a university so that they could get their doctorate in a hard science field. This child was recognized as an outstanding scholar and turned down several universities including CalTech.

Another one of my children won several international high school engineering competitions and is now working towards becoming a engineering

I myself have engineering degree and have several patents.

All my children are very bright, on the right path, well disciplined and motivated.

Name calling and use of profanities shows your lack of discipline. If you have any kids do you want to compare?

I try and learn form those who are successful, so let me know how well you are raising your kids?
JohnGee
1 / 5 (6) Aug 08, 2013
Yes, no liberal has ever parented a child as well as you. I concede. You are the absolute pinnacle of humanity. Except my feeble apologies. A=A
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Aug 08, 2013
"I just finished moving one of my children across the country to a university so that they could get their doctorate in a hard science field. This child was recognized as an outstanding scholar and turned down several universities including CalTech"

-My god you know what? I think pussytard has exposed her alter ego.

"I myself have engineering degree and have several patents"

-Outrageous_bullshit. Youre right john. See my profile page for documentation on similar outrageous bullshit.

obama_socks. You are a lying, flooding, bullshitting freak.
freethinking
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 08, 2013
Thanks Johngee for the compliment, but perfect or having perfect children is nothing I have ever claimed.

Otto, your off your med's again I see.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2013
For an 'engineer' you seem to have the spare time to be here continuously. Why is that? Med's eh?
freethinking
1.7 / 5 (11) Aug 08, 2013
Otto, I own several businesses. I own the computer that makes these posts. However, I would be upset if I caught on of my employees posting from work using my computers. If you notice, at times I quit posting, due to crunch time or big projects.

What I wonder is all the others who spend a lot of time posting. Do they post from work, using their employers computers?

Wouldn't it be funny if one of the raven Progressives on this board actually worked for me......... naaaa... the people I hire are honest, hard working, and smart. Not your typical radical progressive.
SaulAlinsky
2.1 / 5 (7) Aug 08, 2013
"Otto, your off your med's again I see."

Freethinking just revealed himself to be Obama_socks/Estevan57.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Aug 09, 2013
""Otto, your off your med's again I see."

Freethinking just revealed himself to be Obama_socks/Estevan57"

-Youll note how the freak deliberately spelled 'meds'. Just how dumb do you think people are pussytard? As dumb as you?

"the people I hire are honest, hard working, and smart"

-Could this be because you smack them around as well? Or because they are just pretend employees of pretend businesses?
Empire_man_otto
1 / 5 (2) Aug 09, 2013
I think you meant to say 'mis-spelled' didnt you otto? There is a reason that the holy books are all full of violence. Violence is often the only way of getting people to believe in that crap.

Violence against women. Violence against children. Violence of course against unbelievers and apostates and non-procreators and innocent canaanites who were only exacting their own flavor of religious violence as their books demanded. Violence against animals like balaams ass.

Jesus even killed a fig tree out of spite, and brought a sword so that family members could kill each other. He was a jealous god you see.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (3) Aug 09, 2013
Yah. As it is written

"24 Whoever spares the rod hates their children,
but the one who loves their children is careful to smack them around but only in certain places on their bodies." prov13

-Unless they are insolent, in which case you must stone them to death, or you yourself will be stoned.

Its no wonder ft/pt enjoys smacking her kids around so much. It is only prudent.
freethinking
1.8 / 5 (10) Aug 09, 2013
Otto, bashing the bible again, too bad your ignorance keeps showing. The arrogance and ignorance of the Atheist when they talk about the bible shows their foolishness.

An Atheist BEGINs and ENDS with their faith that there can be no God, and so can never consider any evidence for GOD. The very definition of Blind faith.

Atheists like Otto, love to take things out of passage context, out of cultural context, out of historical context. His, like his Jesus seminar buddies Exegesis of the Bible is laughable.

A Christian, or more accurately a Disciple of Christ must consider and is actual commanded to weigh the evidence for God, for Christ, and then choose either to believe or not to believe. They are commanded to Prove all things, which is the very definition of a free thinker.
beyondApsis
5 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2013
"An Atheist BEGINs and ENDS with their faith that there can be no God, and so can never consider any evidence for GOD. The very definition of Blind faith."

Absolutely we are here to consider evidence. Blind faith is a blight on our ability to reason and develop as a compassionate and civil society,

Now which god is it that you have solid evidence for? Is it one of the current belief system deities, or is it one of the supernatural or mystical entities from a religion of a previous era? If there is actual evidence it would be wrong for us to ignore it. Truly wrong.

I know, for instance, that finding Thor's hammer would shake the atheists to the core of their being. It would serve them right.
zaxxon451
5 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2013
"An Atheist BEGINs and ENDS with their faith that there can be no God, and so can never consider any evidence for GOD. The very definition of Blind faith."


Faith supports belief. Atheism is not a belief. It is the lack of a belief. Therefore no faith is required.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2013
"finding thors hammer...would shake their foundations"

-Well finding out conclusively that

there was no 6 day creation with a 1 day vacation,

there never was a first couple,

there never was a global flood,

there never were 2M Jews in goshen who never wandered throughout a Sinai desert occupied by garrisoned Egyptian troops,

there never was a genocidal joshuan rampage through a Palestine similarly garrisoned,

and there never was a grand Solomonic/davidic Jewish kingdom,

-doesn't seem to faze religionists in the least.

They're still convinced that their all-powerful, all-perfect god could write a book full of lies and still deliver them salvation while condemning other religionists to eternal torture for the sin of believing in different books containing similar outrageous lies.

Why is that?
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.8 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2013
The VERY BEST thing that science can do to promote world peace at this point is to demonstrate just how conclusive this evidence is. They should quantify this knowledge, make it easy to understand and access, and they should MAKE SURE that everyone KNOWS it.

They should make sure that it is taught to every student in every classroom wherever possible, and that each generation is armed with the truth about what science has found out about the deep and pervasive lies religion uses to perpetuate itself.
MrRubbs
1 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2013
Such an emotive subject, and so many differences of opinion. It does highlight the fact that our wide ranging differences will always lead to difficulties in applying 1 rule for all. And for each strict rule there will always be those that fight against it.
There is no One-solution to bringing Kids up, and helping them understand right from wrong, there never can be!
The best we can do is to help educate our kids to provide them with the tools to help them cope better with an increasingly confusing life, and hope that this will lead to less physical abuse.It will take many generations and we'll constantly change what we think is right, and no doubt we'll get it wrong as well, that's what part of being human is.
Peace and goodwill to all!