Smacking children should it be made illegal


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Kaitlyn Willigen, Debra Broberg, Danielle Kowaliw

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Smacking children should it be made illegal

  1. 1. Smacking Children Should it be made illegal 16 September 2013 Swinburne University Danielle Kowaliw Kaitlyn Willigen Debra Broberg
  2. 2. Introduction Smacking can be defined as to “strike (someone or something), typically with the palm of the hand and as punishment” (Oxford Dictionaries 2013). With 33 countries having already banned the practice, the topic of should smacking children be made illegal is frequently debated (ABC News 2013).
  3. 3. The purpose of this presentation is to reflect on the history of smacking children, highlight the possible long term effects of smacking a child, discuss the effectiveness of smacking as a form of disciplining a child and identify alternative methods of discipline in order to assist parents in making an informed decision about smacking, with the view of should smacking children be made illegal.
  4. 4. The history of smacking children Dates back to the bible – Proverbs 29.15 that, “The rob and reproof give wisdom but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Fleming, S 2009). Parents looked towards religion for guidance. In medieval times it was the salvation ensuring that their children had a place in heaven. (Fleming, S 2009). This belief stemmed from practices of the catholic church when priests would smack after confession to help remove sins.
  5. 5. The history of smacking children Throughout the centuries with social-economic change so too do the level of discipline and instruments in what is used. It ranges from birch rod, cane, leather strips, slippers, paddle and tawse (wide strip of leather) which was very popular in educational discipline in Scotland.
  6. 6. The history of smacking children In 1930’s to 1940’s The great depression, following WW1, when parents struggled to feed their children smacking was quick and harsh to get children back on track. In school, if a boy spoke out of line, he would be hit with a ruler, a paddle or a switch (flexible rod). Girls were treated less harshly (Cunha, D 2013).
  7. 7. The history of smacking children 1950’s - smacking was still popular with up to 99% of parents stating that they still continue to use some sort of smacking at home. In 1979, Sweden was the first country in the world to ban smacking. 1983 – Finland followed by Norway in 1987.
  8. 8. The history of smacking children Tuesday 22 July, 1986, in the UK, the house of commons voted to end Corporal Punishment in schools. Prime Minister at the time, Mrs Margaret Thatcher wasn’t in parliament that day to have her vote against counted as she was entertaining Mrs Nancy Reagan. Mrs Thatcher was a staunch believer of Victorian times when children were seen but not heard. She like many Tory MP’s were pro-canning (Bloodsworth, J 2013).
  9. 9. The history of smacking children In 1989, Austria banned smacking children. Since then another ten European countries and also banned smacking children. 1985 VIC, Australia banned corporal punishment in Schools. 2006 non-government schools introduced this. 1990 NSW pursuant to the Education Act 1990 (NSW) banned corporal punishment in all government schools.
  10. 10. The history of smacking children 1997 – ACT banned corporal punishment in all schools both government and private. 1999 – WA, Australia banned corporal punishment in government schools only. June 2005, Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica and Uruguay have introduced the ban. 2007, New Zealand Parliament passed legislation to ban smacking children. Though a survey conducted to parents two years later, 90% were in favour of it being allowed.
  11. 11. The history of smacking children In Australia, NSW is the only state who has legislation stating that children are not to be hit on the head or neck and hurt for very long. NT still today doesn’t have any provision in Education Act banning corporal punishment in schools unless the parents object. Both QLD and SA have revoked all provisions of the education act. US, Britain, Canada and Australia still legally permit overall to the smacking of children.
  12. 12. The long term effects of smacking a child The actual long term effects of smacking is a much debated topic and there are many that believe it leads to numerous antisocial behaviours later in life. They believe that children learn what they live, so a smacked child is more likely to use aggression against their peers. They learn that hitting is a way to deal with anger and frustration.
  13. 13. According to Graham (2001), numerous studies indicate that children who have been smacked: ● Tend to be more aggressive. ● Develop low self esteem and self worth. ● Have a limited ability to show compassion and empathy. ● Are more likely to abuse their spouses as adults. ● Have increased chances of depression and suicide, as depression is often a delayed response to suppression of childhood anger.
  14. 14. Others believe that occasional smack is okay and does not cause any long term damage, arguing that those against smacking do not separate smacking from beating. Smacking a child on the buttocks with an open hand with the intention of immediately modifying a child’s behaviour such as when a child is at risk of harm, is not that same thing as striking a child with a closed fist to the face (Cherry, K 2013).
  15. 15. What really matters is the child rearing context. When parents are loving and firm, and communicate well with the child, the children grow to be competent and well adjusted individuals. Children need structure and guidance. It is not the smacking that causes the problems but the history of inadequate or ineffective parenting.
  16. 16. Is smacking an effective form of disciplining a child? According to the Department of Child Protection and Family Support (2013, p.5), discipline should focus on “learning and training, rather than punishing”. Although smacking may be effective in alerting a child that the behaviour that they are exhibiting is not acceptable, it fails to teach a child the appropriate way to behave and may make them frightened, angry or aggressive (Morin, A 2013).
  17. 17. Therefore, in order for discipline to be effective, rather than smacking a child, parents should seek alternative methods of discipline to teach a child not to misbehave and to support positive behaviour (ACT 2013).
  18. 18. Alternative methods of discipline There is a range of alternative methods of discipline, rather than smacking, available to parents to teach and encourage appropriate behaviour. When using alternative methods, parents should consider if the method is age appropriate and likely to achieve the desired outcome whilst educating the child how to better behave in future (Morin, A 2013).
  19. 19. Leading psychotherapist Morin (2013), recommends the following alternative methods of discipline: 1. Put the child in time out. 2. Take away privileges. 3. Ignore instances of mild misbehaviour such as whining. 4. Teach new skills such as problem solving. 5. Praise and reward good behaviour. 6. Provide logical consequences such as if a child doesn't eat all it’s dinner, do not allow a snack before bedtime. 7. Provide natural consequences such as if a child breaks a toy, they will no longer have that toy to play with.
  20. 20. Conclusion In summary, the topic of should smacking children be made illegal is a controversial one. As a practice that has been around for generations, it is unlikely that the practice will stop entirely and will continue for generations to come (Sunrise 2012). Instead, parents should seek alternative methods of discipline to teach and encourage appropriate behaviour.
  21. 21. Reference List ● ABC News 2013, Australian doctors reignite the 'smacking' debate, 26 July, viewed 15 September 2013, < the-smacking-debate/4847194>. ● ACT 2013, Discipline at home, ACT, viewed 12 September 2013, <http: //>. ● Bloodworth, J 2013, Five progressive things done by the governments of Margaret Thatcher, Left Foot Forward, 8 April, viewed 14 September 2013, <http://www.>. ● Cherry, K 2013, What Is Positive Punishment?,, viewed 11 September 2013, <>. ● Cunha, D 2013, Child Discipline in the 1930’s, The Bump, viewed 13 September 2013, <>. ● Department of Child Protection and Family Support 2013, Protecting Children, viewed 12 September 2013, < au/ChildProtection/Documents/ProtectingChildren.pdf>. ● Fleming, S 2009, How has discipline changed?,, 8 November, viewed 11 September 2013, < changed/>.
  22. 22. ● Graham, J 2001, Bulletin #4357, Spanking, The University of Maine, viewed 12 September 2013, <>. ● Holzer, P & Lamont, A 2010, ‘Corporal Punishment: Key Issues’, Australian Institute of Family Studies, ISSN 1448-9112, viewed 15 September 2013, < au/nch/pubs/sheets/rs19/rs19.html>. ● Lutton, C 2007, The history of spanking, Arms of Love Family Fellowship, 27 December, viewed 5 September 2013, <>. ● Morin, A 2013, Is Spanking Children a Good Way to Discipline?,, viewed 12 September 2013, < Spanking-Children-And-Good-Way-To-Discipline.htm>. ● Oxford Dictionaries 2013, Definition of smack in English, Oxford Dictionaries, viewed 15 September 2013, <>. ● Sunrise 2012, The great smacking debate, 2 July, viewed 12 August 2013, <http://www.>.