Friday, February 02, 2007

To Spank or Not To Spank

I was reading this piece today in a forum I belong to. The piece was entitled To Spank Or Not to Spank. All these parents were saying, ‘I have a right to hit my kids if I want to’, ‘Who are the government or anybody to tell me not to hit my children?’, ‘My parents hit me and I’m okay’, and I’m upset about this.

It started with a story about a little girl, I believe she was about three years old, who was distressed on an airplane and her parents were made to take her off the airplane because she was making so much noise. All these people were saying her parents should have hit her.

Now, none of us knows what she was upset about. Maybe she was terrified of flying, as are many adults.

There are lots of ways of calming down a child, but hitting her is just going to make her more distressed. This seems obvious to me. So why is it that parents rush to defend their ‘right’ to spank? Surely no one has the right to hit another person.

I am also thinking, if we think it is okay to hit our children, then how can we complain about how those who have power over us treat us?

I remember Diane Abbott produced a report about Black parents in which she said, a lot of parents feel they are not able to control their children because they are not allowed to beat them. I am thinking, if the only way you can control your children is to beat them, then maybe you should not have children.

This is one of the reasons why I am running the Improving Relationships workshop on 10th and 24th February. If you would like more information, click here.

A lot of the problems we face as adults are also experienced by children. You can read about surrogate tapping (i.e. Emotional Freedom Technique) as it was used on an airplane, click here.

To read about how surrogate tapping was used to calm a frightened child, click here.
To read more about EFT, click here.

Keywords: Black parenting, African Caribbean, parents, families, relationships, UK

1 comment:

Ron (Sinpelo) Tocknell said...

Valid points. However, there are equally compelling arguments both sides of the debate.

When I was at school corporal punishment was employed to address seriously unruly behaviour. Children were not suspended, excluded or deprived of their right to education as they are today. Unruly pupils do not absorb information and this is a consequence of their behaviour. However, all too often, it is a consequence they care little about. Suspension is not bad news to a pupil that does not enjoy school. The essence of corporal punishment is to create a consequence that the child would want to avoid.

The reason it was outlawed was not because it was seen as generally harmful but because it's all but impossible to establish guidelines on when and to what extent corporal punishment should be applied. It was certainly abused by some teachers in virtually every school.

Today, teachers have an unenviable task. Children know that they cannot be effectively punished for their behaviour and, consequently, behaviour has deteriorated to such an extent that pupils are being stabbed at school.

Fighting among youngsters is an inevitability but I recall a time when a child would be isolated from his (and I say "his" because violence was much less of an issue among girls) peers if he kicked his adversary or hit him while he was down. In other words: there was a moral code to which children adhered. Today, a fight with other children so often results in serious injury or death. There is no longer the taboos about kicking, stabbing or stamping on the victim's head. If the victim is disabled or otherwise particularly vulnerable, so what?

I have known children pretend to their peers that they are under an Anti-Social Behaviour Order when they are not just to gain "street credibility". What hope is there when the only punishments that society can mete out to address unacceptable behaviour is seen as a badge of honour?

Of course corporal punishment is abhorrent in an enlightened society.... but we are not an enlightened society. The entertainment industry promotes shallowness and violence and teachers, parents and even the police are increasingly stripped of any means to address the consequences of this.

There are no right answers to this problem and those who feel that it is necessary to take a tougher line with otherwise uncontrollable children are increasingly finding themselves with no permissible tools to address the problems that our society is creating.

Thank God I am not a teacher and my children are now grown up!