'Spare the rod, spoil the child' debate goes on

Published date: 06 February 2014 |
Published by: Rhian Waller 
Read more articles by Rhian Waller  Email reporter


A SECTION of the Social Services and Well-being Bill could see people banned from physically disciplining children.

The amendment, which “makes provision to remove the defence of reasonable punishment where battery of a child takes place in Wales” will be debated at the Senedd next week.

The national anti-smacking group Children are Unbeatable described the bill as “an exciting opportunity” to see a total smacking ban in Wales.

A spokesman said: “We believe it is both wrong and impracticable to seek to define acceptable forms of corporal punishment of children. Such an exercise is unjust.

Hitting children’s a lesson in bad behaviour.

“Removing the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ and thus giving children in their homes – and in all other settings – equal protection under the law on assault is the only just, moral and safe way to clarify the law.

“While technically this would criminalise any assault of a child, trivial assaults, like trivial assaults between adults, would not be prosecuted."

Every parent will raise their child differently from the next family. One person's definition of “reasonable” will differ from another’s.

I dimly remember being smacked as a kid, apart from the odd painless tap on the ankle.

Only one real instance stands out.

I was about five, and I was in the hallway of my family house.

I had just succeeded in plucking the plug guard out of an electrical socket and was busily trying to insert a few fingers into the mains supply.

It’s actually very difficult for a child to electrocute themselves this way but my Dad, entering the hall, went into panic mode.

He picked me up, walloped me on the bottom and then told me in no uncertain terms to never ever do that again.

The aftermath was a red outline of a handprint on my buttock and about an hour of snivelling on my part until, to my utter surprise, my Dad returned, scooped me up in a hug and apologised.

I think he was as shocked by the incident as me.

A chartered electrical engineer, he sat me down and explained the dangers of putting anything in a plug socket (presumably he worried I'd upgrade from fingers to paper clips, given time).

He never smacked me again and I never tried to put anything else in an electric socket (other than a plug).

Sometimes parents will have a visceral reaction, born out of anger and fear, but for some people it becomes routine.

Questions hang over whether smacking as punishment is fair or even effective.

A young mother from Garden City, who asked not to be named, said smackings were a regular feature in her household.

She said: “I wasn't beaten to a pulp but I had three brothers and I definitely remember being smacked and put in my bedroom. It really hurt, not just emotionally.

“Just consider the size of an adult hand and a little child’s bum cheek.

“The question is, how far do you go?”

Now with a young child, she refuses to dole out physical punishment.

She said: “I have a toddler and I’d never, ever hit them. I’ve come close, but then I just think he’s so much smaller than me.

“I feel I just couldn’t hit him and I can’t understand those that would.”

Sometimes, of course, the punishment simply doesn’t work.

She said: “I remember lying in my bedroom hurting and hating my parents. All it did was make me more rebellious."

So where do Leader readers stand on smacking?”

Physical punishment didn't stick with David Parry, 30, formerly of Treuddyn, either.

He said “My parents gave it a try once or twice, I am quite sure without any force.

“The story goes that I laughed – so that ended that.”

Norma Jones, 67, of Bagillt, said: “Children should have a smack and the cane if they are naughty in school. They would be better for it.”

Emma Jayne Bradshaw, 28, of Leeswood, said: “I don’t think there is anything wrong with a smack on the bum or the back of your legs for your own children.

“I think most of our generation survived such ‘atrocities’.

“I wouldn't be comfortable witnessing a smack anywhere else though, like around the head.”

Keith Fermor, 53, of Mold, said: “I agree. It taught us not to overstep the boundaries laid down by our parents.

“I did the same with my children and they have both turned out fine. If you are brought up knowing that there are consequences for misbehaving, then you are far less likely to actually do it.”

Melissa Rushby, 35, of Deeside, said: “What about when children smack their parents? They know they’ll have the power because they can’t be hit back."

Neal Gelder, 45, of Holywell, said: “There must be an ultimate deterrent for naughty kids. Normally the threat of a smacked backside is sufficient.”

Amanda Lewis, 27, a mother of four from Bagillt, said: “I think it is wrong to smack your kids when you leave a mark.

“But I think you have to just tap them on the hand so they do know they have been naughty because they just don’t listen and they just do it again or laugh at you.

“What I do think hurts more is if you take something off them that they really like. Mostly that seems to work.”"

Donny Humphreys, 44, of Wrexham, said: “Let’s bring back old school rules. You’d only need it for a week so the kids would know how easy they’ve got it these days.”

Richard Walker, 39, said he got the slipper, which kept him in line when he was young – but said other parts of modern life were also affecting discipline.

He said: “Social networking and gaming creates bad attitudes.

“Kids phones should be blocked from the internet and they should only be allowed limited time for gaming so they can still interact with their folks.

“I did this to my son and he’s never been a problem.”

But Kevin Price, 48, of Caerwys, said: “I’m sure there are lots of other forms of punishment other than inflicting pain on a defenceless human being.

“Where does it stop, when they are big enough to fight back?

“Cowards hurt those smaller than themselves. Teach respect and love not pain and loathing.”

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  1. Posted by: burman500 at 19:36 on 06 February 2014 Report

    Well well well - the do gooder brigade are at it again - I am a pensioner and when I was young if I did wrong I got a slap on my legs - I learnt very quickly not to do what I had done again - thats the trouble with youngsters today - some are arrogant indiscipined little brats who know full well their parents can get done for "slapping" them if they do wrong - have seen this so many times in wrexham and on buses - its sad our society has gone backwards with the lack of discipline in life -

  2. Posted by: Maredl391 at 23:49 on 10 February 2014 Report

    Lack of discipline at home and in school contributes to the decline in standards and the rise in anti social behavior. We see it everyday, no respect for people or property.

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