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Adults hitting children

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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erasmusinfinity
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Re: Adults hitting children

#61 Post by erasmusinfinity » November 11th, 2008, 6:55 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Paolo,

If your essential point is that nobody is perfect, then I think that is a good point. I even think it is a valid excuse in some cases. That is not to say that I soften my stance against hitting children. But It isn't easy being parents, and I would not advocate that all persons who have ever been hit by their parents should despise them for it.

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Alan H
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Re: Adults hitting children

#62 Post by Alan H » November 11th, 2008, 10:51 pm

Alan C. wrote:a guy in exactly the same situation as me, was awarded £110,000 damages.
Yes, but the money would just have spoiled you! :D
Alan Henness

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Paolo
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Re: Adults hitting children

#63 Post by Paolo » November 12th, 2008, 9:39 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: I'm a bit confused, Paolo. I thought you said in an earlier post, "If a child does something to deserve a smack it should be smacked."
Emma
Don't be confused - I've simply thought about it more and I've changed my mind in light of the discussion. Having no children of my own means I've never really thought about in much detail. My initial comment was made after thinking about situations where children have been excessively cruel or done incredibly dangerous things - things that would/have emotionally destabilised me. Nobody is perfect, as Erasmusinfinity mentions.

I have never struck a child and I hope I never find myself in a position where I feel the desire to do so. With my godchildren and niece I use the stern look or "sit there and think about what you've done" routine - to great effect.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Adults hitting children

#64 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » November 12th, 2008, 5:33 pm

Paolo wrote:I've simply thought about it more and I've changed my mind in light of the discussion.
Oh, OK. You might have told us that, instead of saying, "No-one should be hit regardless of their age, so why is this even a discussion?" as though it had always been abundantly clear to you. :wink: I am surprised, though, that you've gone from thinking that it's reasonable to saying: "If you're hitting kids without it being an emotional response, you need psychiatric help." Clearly there are plenty of people who smack their children [---][/---] and I'd say smacking counted as hitting [---][/---] as a standard means of chastisement, because they think it's an effective way to correct 'bad' behaviour. They're not just reacting in the heat of the moment; they make a considered decision to hit their children, and think it's a perfectly reasonable thing to do. And we're talking about large numbers of people here [---][/---] perhaps 67 per cent of all parents (see "Punishing children by smacking wins widespread adult approval", Telegraph, 21 September 206). I think those people are mistaken, both practically and ethically, and perhaps they need help in finding alternative methods of controlling their children's behaviour, but I don't think they need psychiatric help.

Emma

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Paolo
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Re: Adults hitting children

#65 Post by Paolo » November 13th, 2008, 1:56 pm

There's a lot of mixing of use of words like hitting, smacking, striking etc. in this discussion. There is a range of interpretation for hitting, from a light slap on fleshy parts to beating with objects. I will clarify my thinking.

Ideally no human should ever be beaten. Certainly, no child should be struck in a way that results in injury. Anyone who rationally considers that thrashing a child in a way that will result in bruising or worse damage is, in my opinion, in need of psychiatric help.

Smacking in a way that leaves no damage is rather less extreme, but its efficacy as a rationally applied tool in discipline is questionable. Psychiatric help is probably not required in this instance, but the parent should consider the implications to the child's emotional development when the infliction of pain is considered an acceptable and sensible way of registering disapproval.

I just read the article you cited and was pleased to see that the law fits with my opinion on this - yay for the law. I feel it necessary to point out that "perhaps 67 per cent of all parents" is a stretch considering that the sample used in the study was less than 2,000 and the details of the survey were for a TV programme with an agenda. More importantly the response does not identify the reasons for smacking - an honest parent who has smacked their child onlyonce, under extreme circumstances, would still say that they smack their child.

A total ban on smacking would criminalise parents for doing something that causes no physical harm - so I would be against it, but I still don't see smacking as being constructive or intelligent behaviour and I wouldn't condone it, although I would forgive it if the parent was under stress.

Ted Harvey
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Re: Adults hitting children

#66 Post by Ted Harvey » November 14th, 2008, 5:19 pm

On a point of accuracy, the law that you seek succour from is in fact English law, and that differs from Scottish law on this matter – at least in nuance and duty placed on the parent. From my observations I would describe English law as one of the most reactionary and unenlightened among advanced West European countries when it comes to children. Scottish law, unlike the English law that you may prefer, is not comfortable with the notion of leaving parents routinely free of a robust need to justify the infliction of violence.
You say:
Smacking in a way that leaves no damage is rather less extreme, but its efficacy as a rationally applied tool in discipline is questionable.
What is your evidence base for what is seemingly a contradictory, or at least gramatically contorted, opinion (to which you are entitled) – rather than something to be presented as though it were ‘fact’? Moreover, what is the objective test for pain “that leaves no damage”? The need for evidence is especially pertinent since you take it upon yourself to belittle others’ evidence, as when you pointedly remark that “the details of the survey were for a TV programme with an agenda.” With respect, we, including you, all have our agendas, we need to beware of that.
A total ban on smacking would criminalise parents for doing something that causes no physical harm

But again, what is your objective test that proves it "causes no physical harm"? There is an onus, moreover, on you to provide a test that can be readily utilised in everday family life, given that you are justifying the inflicting of pain as a matter of discipline.

In addition, we outlaw inumerable matters that 'cause no physical harm', Why should we make an exception in, of all things, the infliction of pain on children?

But most significantly, you stray back to your presumption of the right of one powerful human being to decide when the inflicting of pain on another powerless human being is admissible – nay desirable, as in:
the parent should consider the implications to the child's emotional development when the infliction of pain is considered an acceptable and sensible way of registering disapproval. (my italics)
I also cannot see the logical coherence between, on the one hand, your admonishment that “the parent should consider… when the infliction of pain is considered”, and then on the other hand your readiness to excuse parents on grounds of emotion or stress. You are sliding from justifying the inflicting of pain, and at the same time admitting the need for scope to excuse it.

This is the kind of ethical quagmire that inevitably arises when you start from the premise that “the infliction of pain” on children by adults is admissible (and there again is that recurrent use of language that really worries me - “when the infliction of pain is considered an acceptable and sensible way of registering disapproval”, and notions of “efficacy”).

IMO, what you assert remains unacceptable and lacking in ethical, logical or common sense; it detracts from the maturity we might expect from an adult in a position of power over children. What you most recently say is just a reversion to arguing that those in power positions (parents) have the right to determine whether pain is to be inflicted on the powerless (children). If you have moved at all, I think that is on semantics - on removing the word ‘deserving’ when describing some children being subjected to adult violence. Your basic premise seems to still be that it is variously appropriate or efficacious or sensible or not harmful for parents to hit children; with respect you remain wrong on all accounts

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Paolo
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Re: Adults hitting children

#67 Post by Paolo » December 3rd, 2008, 1:13 pm

Ted Harvey wrote:On a point of accuracy, the law that you seek succour from is in fact English law, and that differs from Scottish law on this matter
I live in England, so that is the law that is relevent to me. If I lived in Scotland I would look at Scottish law. Unfortunately we can't pick and choose the laws we like best.
Ted Harvey wrote: You say:
Smacking in a way that leaves no damage is rather less extreme {than a thrashing - let's keep the context}, but its efficacy as a rationally applied tool in discipline is questionable.
What is your evidence base for what is seemingly a contradictory, or at least gramatically contorted, opinion (to which you are entitled) – rather than something to be presented as though it were ‘fact’?
I am saying that a smack is less extreme than a thrashing. I am also saying that smacking (and any physical violence) is of questionable value as a tool of discipline. What are you trying to say?
Ted Harvey wrote:Moreover, what is the objective test for pain “that leaves no damage”? The need for evidence is especially pertinent since you take it upon yourself to belittle others’ evidence, as when you pointedly remark that “the details of the survey were for a TV programme with an agenda.” With respect, we, including you, all have our agendas, we need to beware of that.
A total ban on smacking would criminalise parents for doing something that causes no physical harm

But again, what is your objective test that proves it "causes no physical harm"?
The first point I made was about interpretation of terminology, perhaps I should have been more explicit. A smack stops being a smack and becomes a beating or a thrashing once damage is done. I'm not sure if you read the article (which offers support for parent's rights to smack based on majority opinion), but the it explicitly states "any blow which leaves a mark on a child is illegal" and I think it is reasonable to assume that if there is no mark, there is no physical harm.
Ted Harvey wrote:There is an onus, moreover, on you to provide a test that can be readily utilised in everday family life, given that you are justifying the inflicting of pain as a matter of discipline.

Here I leave you to your ranting, since I think it is clear that I am opposing the inflicting of pain as a matter of discipline. Either I didn't express it clearly enough or you didn't read it properly, but I clearly state that "... I still don't see smacking as being constructive or intelligent behaviour and I wouldn't condone it...". My argument against a total ban on smacking is simply that parents are only human and sometimes they will resort to smacking when they are stressed. It may not be ideal, but we do not live in an ideal world, after all, do we really want a child's parents sent to jail because of a knee-jerk slap on the bum as a reaction to a child running out into the road?

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Adults hitting children

#68 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » April 26th, 2010, 4:41 pm

Thought it might be time to resuscitate this thread. See the article in yesterday's Observer: "Europe presses UK to introduce total ban on smacking children: The Council of Europe says London needs to comply with 1998 ruling that said smacking violates children's rights". And tomorrow there's an exhibition and debate on "Eliminating corporal punishment of children" in Strasbourg, on the 30th Anniversary of the Swedish ban on corporal punishment of children. (There's lots of information on the Council of Europe web site on corporal punishment.) Is there any chance at all of legislative change in the UK in the near future? Or distant future? Or ever?

Emma

Marian
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Re: Adults hitting children

#69 Post by Marian » April 27th, 2010, 1:43 am

I like the idea of a ban because it gives parents the message that physical discipline is not acceptable behaviour. Do I think a ban would stop the actual behaviour? Not likely although some might be discouraged. What's more likely is that smacking would continue behind closed doors.

Seeing as how physical discipline of any sort is particularly useless at teaching anything other than bullying and authoritarianism, we, as a society, really ought to be educating parents-to-be what does work in a constructive and positive way.

Sure, parents get stressed and smack their kids but I think that's totally different from your average child abuser who inflicts punishment as a matter of course. Those people need a beating to show that beating is wrong. :wink:
Transformative fire...

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jaywhat
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Re: Adults hitting children

#70 Post by jaywhat » April 27th, 2010, 9:35 am

They say that people who beat were themselves beaten and some people take that as a get out.

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Adults hitting children

#71 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » April 27th, 2010, 11:31 am

I think the evidence from Sweden, where the percentage of parents who are in favour of the corporal punishment of children has gone down to around 11 per cent, strongly suggests that a ban can change not only observable behaviour but also attitudes, which over time would significantly reduce the chances of corporal punishment continuing behind closed doors. I also think that if parents get into the habit of using disciplinary methods other than "smacking" when in public, then it would be easier to avoid them in private.

There's been some new research on the effects of "smacking" that I find quite compelling. Read this article in Time magazine on "The Long-Term Effects of Spanking", and here's the related press release from Tulane University.

Emma

ASHEd
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Re: Adults hitting children

#72 Post by ASHEd » June 23rd, 2010, 4:49 pm

If children are taught right and given decent examples I don't think they'd do anything that warrants physical punishment. I mean, what is it going to teach them for when they grow up? 'If someone is doing wrong by your standards, hitting them is perfectly applicable in the adult world'.
On the other hand it may just make them retreat into their shell. A mate of mine was hit after being wrongly accused of swearing. She does not stand up for herself, she has heavy problems maintaining memories, and has terrible panic attacks as well as her self-esteem being virtually nil. Of course there are other factors. But she would certainly never swear in front of her parents. I don't think its a crime to swear, especially when it's just an outburst that isn't directed at anyone in particular. It's just another control on people.

I know this is just one example, a case study, if you will, but if one person is affected by it, it is likely at least a few more will respond the same. Even if it was a minority number, why jeopardise the mental health of the few.

It's not likely I'll ever have kids, but I wouldn't hit them.

andrew_peacock
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Re: Adults hitting children

#73 Post by andrew_peacock » July 16th, 2010, 11:33 am

I have two children (5 and 3). I have not ever ruled out smacking, but up until now have always found another way to deal with it. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

One thing I have seen is that a lot of rational, intelligent, and caring parents I know said before they had children that they would never smack their children, and then found that when they became parents there were situations where they resorted to smacking.

That people feel so strongly against smacking suggests that there might be something "wrong" with it. That people change their minds suggests that can be hard to follow in practice.

Some of the more rational arguments for smacking are around helping the child learn safe behaviours - such as not to run across the road. Perhaps, rather than arguing against smacking, we should be arguing FOR better support for parents to use other ways to help our children learn these things?

Marian
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Re: Adults hitting children

#74 Post by Marian » July 16th, 2010, 12:52 pm

andrew_peacock wrote: Perhaps, rather than arguing against smacking, we should be arguing FOR better support for parents to use other ways to help our children learn these things?
You've hit the nail on the head. I think smacking might get one's point across faster but I think the kid is more likely to remember the smack itself rather than what it was for in the first place. Brilliant that you have found better ways of teaching your children.
Love the idea of better support for parents and not necessarily with the threat of child protective services hanging over one's head. If we teach people how to drive, we really ought to teach them to be decent parents, imo.

And 'bless' your heart being brave and having a 3 and 5 year old at the same time. :D We had a 5 3/4 year old stay with us overnight last weekend and afterwards I was incredibly grateful to hear the door close behind her when mom picked her up. Lovely child but kind of bossy. I'll stick with my 16 year old...
Transformative fire...

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