Should smacking children be made illegal? Watch

Aberystwyth University Guest Lecturer
Badges: 6
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 2 weeks ago
#1
Physical harm against another adult is illegal across the UK, but reasonable force when 'smacking' children in England and Wales is not.

Scotland has banned smacking by making any physical punishment against a child a punishable offence. England and Wales haven't, but Wales is considering following Scotland’s example.

My question to everyone is while we have varying standards around smacking children in England and Wales, should children have the right to be protected from physical punishment in the same way as adults are protected?

What psychological reasons might parents and policy makers use to support for and against the banning of smacking in Wales?

Gareth is a Senior Lecturer in Social Psychology at Aberystwyth University in Wales. My main goal is to examine the relevance of social psychology in understanding everyday social issues and how such issues, like group and intergroup behaviour, body image, and life skills development are amplified through everyday practices, such as during our leisure time (e.g., sport, physical activity).


Detailed analysis below:

In the UK, it is illegal for a parent or carer to use unreasonable force against a child (and adult for that matter) for punishment, and this has led to variability in judging what ‘reasonable’ force means.

Factors that are used to make this judgement include:
- the age and sex of a child
- the force used by the adult.

What is clear in law is that injury and actual bodily harm (i.e., grazes, bruising, swelling) is illegal and past practices, such as corporal punishment and smacking in schools and nursery is now banned.

In Scotland, the term 'reasonable force' has been removed from law and makes any physical punishment against a child a punishable offence. In Wales a similar focus upon reasonable force as punishment has been targeted by the Welsh Government as it is seen as a ‘loophole’ across England and Wales to justify hitting one’s children.

(https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/mar/25/smacking-children-to-be-banned-in-wales)

The problem

A common argument against banning smacking, usually comes from those opposed to banning smacking typically is along the lines of “I was smacked and it never did me harm” – see here for further reading (Kish & Newcombe, 2015). The contradiction here is that those who were smacked tend to be those who also wish to continue the practice. There are of course plenty of people who were never smacked and turned out ok, too – some may support the use of smacking while others might not.

Psychologically though, the issue remains the same around mimicking and normalisation of aggression. For decades, policy has tried to intervene by restricting the violence we see on TV and music we hear, and the idea is the same with smacking – if children see it and hear it – they will do. Consider this advert as an illustration of the psychological reasoning behind it:




However, the problem is actually an adult one because as adults we expect, from other adults to be protected by law against any assault especially as a disciplinary measure for poor work performance, bad behaviour, and incentive to be positive. For example, as adults we expect that if we hit someone we might be hit back or severely punished by our freedoms restricted through imprisonment, but we also expect through shared consensus that for society to operate with some structure it is in everyone’s interest that we do not hit each other.

If we as adults know and agree that hitting as punishment to correct behaviour is good for children, then why do we still grow up to be violent. Moreover, if it works, why is hitting adults also wrong?
Last edited by TSR Dave; 2 weeks ago
4
reply
bones-mccoy
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#2
Report 2 weeks ago
#2
I don't agree with any adult physically harming a child in order to show discipline. You'd quite rightly be arrested if you hit another person in the street and they called the police so why should it be any different for a parent/caregiver to hit a child? All it does is teach children that they can control other people and get their own way by physically hurting others.

As stated before, the only defence I also ever hear in favour of smacking is "well I was smacked and I turned out fine" and that's great for those in that position but there are plenty of damaged adults out there today who are now struggling as a direct result of being smacked as a child. Ultimately you can never predict how a child will react long-term to being hit - some can cope with it and accept it as part of their childhood, they won't suffer any ~repercussions~ so to speak, but others, like myself, will end up with a myriad of problems that will affect them for years to come. The safest way to avoid this is simply not smacking your child in the first place. It is a shame that people seem unable to find another, healthier form of discipline.

As for children copying behaviour they see, I made the concrete decision never to smack any child a long time ago. It is easy to see how people swing the other way though, the more normalised aggressive behaviour and attitudes become, the more likely people are to engage in it themselves.
Last edited by bones-mccoy; 2 weeks ago
21
reply
the bear
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#3
Report 2 weeks ago
#3
we need more discipline for our young folk. our inner city estates are infested with gangs of feral youths who do exactly what they want and play the police for fools. a taste of the birch is just what they need.
24
reply
Gwil
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#4
Report 2 weeks ago
#4
Deliberately physically harming a person in any way, most of all a child, should without a doubt be punishable by law. However, the words "hit", "smack" and "spank" should not be used interchangeably. To hit somebody is to forcefully strike them, usually to cause pain, whereas a spank is merely a remonstrative tap. I would never hit an animal, and would despise anybody who did, but giving my cat a painless tap on the nose to teach her not to steal food is completely different. Similarly, it's natural and very healthy for a parent to have a strong physical bond with their child and to communicate with them through their body, and this can include the occasional painless slap to establish a safety boundary, particularly with toddlers who need to understand quickly that certain things are dangerous. If that's aggression, telling someone off is verbal abuse.

The phrasing "unreasonable force" is definitely ambiguous and should be ammended, but spanking shouldn't be outlawed altogether.
11
reply
Gwil
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#5
Report 2 weeks ago
#5
(Original post by the bear)
we need more discipline for our young folk. our inner city estates are infested with gangs of feral youths who do exactly what they want and play the police for fools. a taste of the birch is just what they need.
If the police were to use corporal punishment on delinquent youths, it would only reinforce marginalised young people's sense that the authorities are against them and don't understand them.
2
reply
the bear
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#6
Report 2 weeks ago
#6
(Original post by Gwil)
If the police were to use corporal punishment on delinquent youths, it would only reinforce marginalised young people's sense that the authorities are against them and don't understand them.
young people are never in the wrong are they ?
1
reply
Dunya
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#7
Report 2 weeks ago
#7
So I can't keep the cricket bat for when I have kids?
9
reply
Gwil
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#8
Report 2 weeks ago
#8
(Original post by the bear)
young people are never in the wrong are they ?
Of course they can be, as can all sections of the population. My point is that if you want to turn them into law-abiding citizens, corporal punishment may be counter-productive.
1
reply
the bear
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#9
Report 2 weeks ago
#9
(Original post by Gwil)
Of course they can be, as can all sections of the population. My point is that if you want to turn them into law-abiding citizens, corporal punishment may be counter-productive.
i guess we need a controlled experiment with two randomized groups of ne'er do wells ;

group A gets a gentle talking to and a mars bar for kicking the **** out of pensioners

group B gets a sound thrashing and are forced to wear orange jumpsuits

this would make a wonderful research project, no ?

:beard:
3
reply
the beer
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#10
Report 2 weeks ago
#10
(Original post by Gwil)
Of course they can be, as can all sections of the population. My point is that if you want to turn them into law-abiding citizens, corporal punishment may be counter-productive.
Don't mind him, spanking is his kink.
1
reply
Chochiana
Badges: 7
Rep:
?
#11
Report 2 weeks ago
#11
A trillion percent YES YES AND YES! Smacking is teaching kids that hitting will solve anything and will hit their kids own too! This is a bad trait to have and can lead to aggression. There is a mature way to distract kids from doing something they shouldn't be in a calm and controlled manner. You can ground them, exclude them from their phones but stay clear of any physical treatment as nothing good will come out of it!
4
reply
Leviathan1611
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#12
Report 2 weeks ago
#12
not really. If it was causing bruises and broken bones and loss of hair and limbs and long term injuries then yeah it probably should be illegal. (and I think it already is anyway)

as long as there's no bruises and stuff it should be fine and legal.
Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
4
reply
Daigan
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#13
Report 2 weeks ago
#13
(Original post by the bear)
i guess we need a controlled experiment with two randomized groups of ne'er do wells ;

group A gets a gentle talking to and a mars bar for kicking the **** out of pensioners

group B gets a sound thrashing and are forced to wear orange jumpsuits

this would make a wonderful research project, no ?

:beard:
In that situation i'd want to know what was the pensioner doing there in the first place? And what did the pensioner say to get smacked? You know how mouthy pensioners can be giving it all, "Back in my day..." and "When I was in the great war...".
1
reply
JohanGRK
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#14
Report 2 weeks ago
#14
threat of a smack is what's needed
2
reply
the bear
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#15
Report 2 weeks ago
#15
(Original post by Daigan)
In that situation i'd want to know what was the pensioner doing there in the first place? And what did the pensioner say to get smacked? You know how mouthy pensioners can be giving it all, "Back in my day..." and "When I was in the great war...".
they are asking for a good kicking with all of their "do you know what i got this medal for ?" nonsense
(Original post by the beer)
Don't mind him, spanking is his kink.
shut up name plagiarist

:spank:
1
reply
Leviathan1611
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#16
Report 2 weeks ago
#16
(Original post by Dunya)
So I can't keep the cricket bat for when I have kids?
you trying to bludgeon them to a pulp or something!?
Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
0
reply
Gwil
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#17
Report 2 weeks ago
#17
(Original post by the bear)
i guess we need a controlled experiment with two randomized groups of ne'er do wells ;

group A gets a gentle talking to and a mars bar for kicking the **** out of pensioners

group B gets a sound thrashing and are forced to wear orange jumpsuits

this would make a wonderful research project, no ?

:beard:
That's a bit of a straw man argument, since neither Group A nor Group B's punishment would be particularly effective. Rather than a one-off "gentle talking to", what we need is a long-term plan of action to engage with delinquent young people and to assess their needs and problems. Before people who have been behaving in an anti-social manner will get back on the "straight and narrow", a sense of trust, dignity and responsibility is prerequisite. Your "sound thrashing" would break that.
1
reply
Dunya
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#18
Report 2 weeks ago
#18
(Original post by Leviathan1611)
you trying to bludgeon them to a pulp or something!?
1
reply
the bear
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#19
Report 2 weeks ago
#19
(Original post by Gwil)
That's a bit of a straw man argument, since neither Group A nor Group B's punishment would be particularly effective. Rather than a one-off "gentle talking to", what we need is a long-term plan of action to engage with delinquent young people and to assess their needs and problems. Before people who have been behaving in an anti-social manner will get back on the "straight and narrow", a sense of trust, dignity and responsibility is prerequisite. Your "sound thrashing" would break that.
tsk.... these young villains have very short attention spans. they are not going to buy into extended mollycoddling sessions by sandal-wearing non-judgementalists. they need a short sharp shock.
1
reply
Anonymous #1
#20
Report 2 weeks ago
#20
The main thing to keep in mind is human behavioural biology and psychology.

Hitting a kid is the easy way out for lazy parents who do not have the will to, the interest to, or simply the social skills to address their child’s issue from the root. Instead, hitting them in hopes that they associate the pain with the habit creates a guilty pleasure sort of feeling attached to that. Not only will the kids do it again once their parents are out of sight, they will get a kick out of it as they directly oppose authority.

As of the ‘I turned out okay’ argument, not everyone deserves the right to vote on an issue they are subjectively biased towards in an ill-informed way or do not have the knowledge to think about. It’s Socrates election argument on democracy. I do not need statistical evidence to show that these people regularly suffer from mental disorders today and do not have their lives together, but if you put these people on the charts, I’m sure you’d find unemployment, suicide and financial instability significantly higher.

We have had a bad generation grow up and the world around us is another piece of evidence to see. Gen Y or the daycare generation has still proven to be better.
Posted on the TSR App. Download from Apple or Google Play
1
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts

All the exam results help you need

799

people online now

225,530

students helped last year

University open days

  • Aberystwyth University
    Undergraduate Open Day Undergraduate
    Sat, 14 Sep '19
  • Aberystwyth University
    General Open Day Undergraduate
    Sat, 14 Sep '19
  • Aberystwyth University
    Undergraduate Open Day Undergraduate
    Sat, 12 Oct '19

Are you going to self-release into Clearing?

Yes I've pressed the button (97)
18.8%
No I'm happy with my uni offer (329)
63.76%
Not yet but I am planning to (24)
4.65%
Not yet but I might (66)
12.79%

Watched Threads

View All
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise