Smacking children is not harmful
Smacking children is not harmful
I fully agree with the study presented according to
which "Smacking children [is] not so harmful". In this day
and age when we have to study everything from a scientific
point of view, common sense, which was the guideline for
former generations, has been thrown out the window!
sensible people must be aware of the fact that no matter how
much we love our children, there occurs sometimes in the
most harmonious of families occasions when parents must use
reasonable force against their children. That has nothing to
do with violence. Smacking a 16-yr old who has thrown an axe
at a younger sibling, (Case 14 in my submission to the
Select Committee), is not violence. Smacking a 15-yr old who
has pushed her mother so she fell down the stairs because
she was not given a tape-recorder, (Case 16 in my
submission), is not child abuse. These two cases are exact
scenarios from my legal experience. The 16 and 15 year olds
were legally responsible but they were not prosecuted for
their terrible acts, but the parents were prosecuted for
Former generations, and most of the
parents in the world, can differentiate between smacking and
child abuse. Smacking is used by responsible parents, when
words and admonitions are not enough to make the child cease
and desist from an unacceptable behaviour. That has nothing
to do with violence or child abuse.
On October 15, 2004
in the wake of the acquittal of the stepfather in Uddevalla,
(a small town in southern Sweden), who had smacked his 15 yr
old step-daughter who had spat in his face (Case 29 in my
submission), the evening newspaper, Aftonbladet, interviewed
five persons. They all said it was wrong to smack children.
The following day I was interviewed on the
Morning Program on TV and I congratulated the court on a
verdict based on common sense. The same day Aftonbladet
published an article with interviews with a well-known
record producer, Bert Karlsson, and me. Bert Karlsson said:
"I would have hit even harder".
The following Tuesday night (19/10) I was invited to
participate in a panel debate on the Television program
"Debate" with Lennart Persson. The panel was made up of six
persons: three for smacking and three against. On my team I
had Rune Torwald, one of the six MP's who had voted against
the anti-smacking law and a criminologist. On the other team
were the Children's ombudsman, a psychologist from Save the
Children and a European MP. The anti-smackers claimed that
it was damaging for defenceless children to be smacked.
However, the issue at hand was the case with the 15-year old
girl. A 15-year old is not a defenceless child. At age 15 a
youngster is punishable by law and has also attained the
legal age of consent to sexual relations.
Towards the end
of the program Lennart Persson asked the psychologist from
Save the Children if all former generations of children -
including us adults born before the anti-smacking law was
passed - were damaged. The psychologist from Save the
Children hesitated then he answered "No". That's the only
answer he could give because I'm sure that he too was
smacked as a child. So, if he had replied "yes" then he
would be stating that he himself was traumatised.
leading authorities on child rearing have a more common
sense attitude towards child smacking. For example, Dr.
Laura Schlessinger states in the article "Is parental
authority important? Dr. Laura weighs in on 'sparing the
rod'", published on WorldNetDaily on February 10, 2001, the
"(...) the necessity for the adults to
establish themselves as authority figures is, in my opinion,
the single most important factor in child rearing."
American psychoanalyst, Robert Waelder, wrote in his book
"Basic theory of Psychoanalysis", I quote:
psychoanalytic approach to upbringing does not mean that
children should get what they desire when they desire
something; instead it demands an attempt to find a suitable
balance between satisfaction and disappointment in every
situation ... we have to find the optimal combination of two
equally important but partly opposite ingredients for a
healthy development, namely, love and discipline; to love
without spoiling and to discipline without injuring."
Sweden we have had a blanket prohibition against smacking
children since 1979. Since then hundreds, maybe thousands,
of parents have been prosecuted for "child abuse" and their
children have been taken into compulsory care and placed in
foster homes - where in fact they have been severely abused
mentally, physically and even sexually.
The greatest harm
that is being done to children in Sweden today is not caused
by parents who give an occasional smacking, but by
unnecessary state intervention into their private and family
lives. Since the beginning of the 1970s, parents have been
indoctrinated in the modern philosophy that children should
have free upbringing. Free upbringing came to mean "freedom
from upbringing". The state agencies took over and parents
have been forced to abdicate from their positions of
authority for their children - on pain of prison and the
loss of their children to the state.
Discipline became a
despised word - a word that should not be used by parents in
child rearing and neither by teachers in the schools. Many
leading persons in Sweden have reacted to the fact that
Swedish children are wild and lacking in discipline.
article "Youngsters must meet a firm reaction", published in
the Swedish Daily on September 5, 1993, former Justice
Minister, Mrs Gun Hellsvik, and former School Minister, now
Justice Minister, Mrs Beatrice Ask, asserted that Sweden
needs a new family policy. They wrote inter alia:
recent years, there is a dawning societal debate on moral
and ethical questions. (...) We are beginning to see the
results of the general lack of principles that the social
democrats promoted as a political goal during the sixties
and seventies. It was their vision of family, school and
teaching and also about the legal system in general. There
are certain basic ideas that we believe most people in our
country agree with in principle: Adults have a
responsibility to teach the youth what is right and wrong.
Parents have a particular responsibility towards their
children. ... Young persons who break rules must learn to
take the consequences and expect to meet a firm reaction.
The State shall in every respect facilitate parents and
among others teachers to fulfil their educational tasks."
"Aversion towards the family
social-democrats since the beginning of the sixties, there
has been an unexplainable aversion towards the family and a
reluctance to allow the schools to fulfil their important
roll as a conveyor of norms. Parents were told that they
"snuffed the development of their children. They were
informed in no uncertain terms that their children would
fare better if they were taken care of by specially trained
staff at public institutions.
Parents were deemed to be
lacking in knowledge and rather dangerous for their
In the end it is necessary that
children or adolescents who break prescribed rules must meet
a firm reaction both at home and at school. Because of this
there are a number of changes that are necessary in our
Therefore, we need a new family policy that will
show that the responsibility for the supervision and
upbringing of the children rests on the parents...
It is high time to let parents and the teaching
staff take responsibility for the youth in our society. If
we fail to do that we will fail our children!"
16, 2003 the Swedish columnist, Linda Skugge wrote: "We are
bringing up a generation of monsters" and on July 4, 2005,
the journalist Roger Lord wrote the article: "The children
are embarrassing Sweden". Despite the negative Swedish
experiences, certain politicians in other countries are
trying to enforce similar legislation.
The Archbishop of
Canterbury was quoted in an article published in Aftonbladet
on October 27, 1996, saying that "smacking is good for
children." The article also informs that Tony Blair has
admitted smacking his children, and that he deems it
And, on October 9, 2006, USA Today
published the article "CEOs Often Spanked as Kids",
asserting that smacking is one thing they overwhelmingly
have in common.
There is no conclusive evidence that
smacking is harmful to children. The burden of proof must
lay on those who propose a change in the existing
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