Sunday, April 08, 2007

Another brick in the wall

There is legislation before parliment at the moment usually called the 'anti-smacking' bill. Actually it repeals a part of the assault legislation which says it is OK for parents to punish children with reasonable force. (This excuse is not available to anyone else.)

I have never hit my children. I hope and intend I never will.

As an adult I have deliberately hit people, hard, twice that I recall. Once it was the bride's cousin at a wedding when he was trying to slow dance with me and I was trying to dance with a group and he wouldn't take 'go away' for an answer. The other time it was my recently ex-boyfriend when he looked too smug. In both cases I'd had a few drinks. In both cases if I'd thought before I acted I would have done something different. In both cases I could, theoretically, have been changed with assault but in the circumstances the police wouldn't have cared enough to do so. If I ever hit my children, even if the 'anti-smacking' bill has passed I am confident I will not be charged with assault whatever the law. So really it does not effect me.

It does effect our society. In ways I care about. It gives children the same protection from their parents which they currently have from other adults. This seems obviously sensible to me. I don't really understand why it doesn't seem sensible to everyone.

I can easily understand why many parents are driven by their children to the point of hitting them. What I can't understand is the parents who think it is or was a good idea rather than an unfortunate mistake. Most of the time when I send H or K into time out it is for hitting the other one. The message I am trying to teach is 'we don't hit people'. How would hitting them help?

I can think of one example of physical punishment which I consider sensible in the circumstances. The brother of someone I know was planning to join a gang, his mother gave him a black eye, she knew that the gang wouldn't accept as tough enough someone who got beaten up by his mother. Perhaps it is telling that in this story what the beating taught was the lesson that beating another person teaches most clearly - I am more physically powerful than you. This was a rare occaision when that message was actually worth emphasising.

[For more blogging about this check out from the morgue].

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