Smacking ban should not be placed

8 August 2016

To discipline is to teach or instruct; which in this case usually refers to helping children learn self-control. When parents speak of discipline, they usually mean domestic corporal punishment. Domestic corporal punishment is a form of physical punishment that involves the parent or guardian in the home smacking or “striking (someone or something), typically with the palm of the hand and as a punishment this is usually done by using small amount of force for the purpose of disciplining a child in order to discourage attitudes or behaviour deemed unacceptable.

Over the past six months a debate has arisen over whether Australia should adopt a law that makes parents smacking their children a crime. As it is a matter of personal choice, parents should be allowed to smack their kid’s, many Australian parents believe it is their right and that it should not be a crime for parents to smack their children as a means of discipline. Surveys conducted have displayed that an overwhelming 80-90% of Australian adults support the occasional necessity of mild physical punishment of misbehaving children by their parents.

Smacking ban should not be placed Essay Example

This points to the widespread belief that parents have a responsibility to give reasonable physical punishment if it is not random or unreasonable and does not cause harm to the child. This is almost always tied to a legitimate belief that it was the only way to control their child’s behaviour and intended to teach the child that the behaviour they displayed was not safe or socially acceptable. In fact, there is research to suggest that smacking a child up to the age of six can improve their standard of life in later years.

Responses from the public have shown that any law that seriously intends to prohibit smacking would be unenforceable. Most parental disciplining of children occurs at home and therefore cannot be directly observed by law enforcement officers and others who might otherwise persecute them for their disciplinary methods. A majority of Australians support parents’ right to use reasonable corporal punishment to discipline their children. It would it be impossible to enforce a law that makes it illegal for parents to smack their children.

There is no possible way that households could be monitored in order to ensure that this law is upheld by parents without families having their basic right of privacy, violated. In regards to enforcing such a law, Child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg asserted, ‘How could you reasonably monitor and enforce such a law? What are we going to do? Have the smacking police? ‘ he stated in article published in The Age in 2013. The Victorian Opposition Leader, Daniel Andrews, has also stated, ‘Parenting is hard and it’s not made any easier by unenforceable and intrusive proposals like this.

‘ Apart from that, children are already protected under assault laws and studies have shown that moderate physical punishment will develop more resilient and successful children. For the Government to even try to enforce this law and set up home surveillance to prevent children from being smacked they would need to use an absurd amount of tax payers money causing an uproar from parents everywhere as this law would already be infringing their rights but now also be invading their privacy. Their homes would no longer be their homes.

There would be no freedom for families to discipline their child with ‘reasonable’ action without fear of punishment though they were previously entitled to by the law. In Australia, children are protected against abuse and assault in the same way all other Australian citizens are protected. In addition to these laws protecting Australian citizens from harm, numerous states have introduced laws that outline the manner in which parents may use physical punishment to discipline their children.

The Crimes Amendment Act 2001 (NSW) introduced an amendment specifying that physical punishment by a parent should not harm a child more than briefly and specifies the parts of a child’s body where a parent may inflict such punishment. The Act states that the punishment is not reasonable if it is applied to any part of the head or neck of the child, or if it is applied to any other part of the body of the child in such a way as to be likely to cause harm to the child that lasts for more than a short period.

This amendment to the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) did not entirely abolish the parental capacity for domestic corporal punishment, it also did not distinctly ban the use of physical force towards children, however it did introduce strict guidelines on what is acceptable which is a positive, considering that research results have suggested that physical discipline does not, in fact, cause harm to most children. . In Victoria, there is no legislation relevant to domestic corporal punishment by parents although there is a common law defence for parental use of corporal punishment.

Victorian common law allows parents to carry out corporal punishment to their children if the punishment given is neither unreasonable nor excessive or in other words is a means of deterring a child from repeating an undesirable act or in any way harming the child. It is common across all states and territories in Australia, that any parental punishment is required to be ‘reasonable’ or acceptable if it does not cause harm to the child for more than a short period of time. It has been argued that a little physical punishment can result in an individual becoming more resilient.

Harvard psychologist Professor Dan Kindlon has claimed, ‘The body cannot learn to adapt to stress unless it experiences it. Indulged children are often less able to cope with stress because their parents have created an atmosphere where their whims are indulged, where they have always assumed that they’re entitled and that life should be a bed of roses. ‘ This suggests that those children who were indulged grow up to be more susceptible to a variety of psychological problems as they face reality because they are unaware of their boundaries.

Claims that the use of moderate physical discipline during childhood results in the child being more successful later in life have also been made. A study recently conducted found that children who are smacked before the age of six perform better academically as teenagers, they are also more likely to engage in further studies than those who have never been physically disciplined. The study, which was conducted by Marjorie Gunnoe, professor of Psychology at Calvin College in the United States state of Michigan, established that from the results collected there was not enough evidence to prove that physical discipline harmed most children.

Professor Gunnoe stated, ‘The claims that are made for not spanking children fail to hold up. ‘ There are those that argue that smacking a child is an unnecessary form of physical abuse, that it causes real harm to children and that it should be outlawed. However, what these people fail to see is that a smack is not hitting or punching, but rather a light tap to remind children to stop their negative behaviour. As this is the case, their argument against smacking is mute. It is unlikely that the corporal punishment of children by their parents will be made illegal in Australia, at least in the immediate future.

Popular support for parental corporal punishment of children is high and government intervention in the area is generally seen as intrusive and unlikely to be effective. It is an area that presents major enforcement issues if it were to be deemed illegal; the ‘crime’ would occur largely within the home and would raise major reporting difficulties. If the punishment is not excessive and is reasonable, parents should be allowed to administer the appropriate form of punishment for their child. After all, who knows what is best for a child if not their own parents?

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