There was a debate on Radio 4 this morning about whether or not it’s acceptable, & whether or not it should be a criminal offence, for a parent to hit their children.
A generation or two ago it was similarly considered socially acceptable for a man to bring his wife into line by hitting her, a bit (witness Sean Connery’s attitude, for instance). I see this issue as the same, the debate has just moved on as our society has grown & matured; we don’t even ask that question anymore. Surely hitting children is no different &, on this reasoning, may - & I think should – be criminalised.
I was hit in the name of ‘discipline’ as a child – at school with straps & rulers, at home with wooden spoons & curtain rails. I used to support it but, although I don’t blame those who hit me (apart from a few of the more sadistic teachers) as they were mostly just doing what they thought was right, I now see that it’s caused me problems in my adult life, particularly in anger management.
I never have, & I never will, hit my children: the very thought to me is horrifying, an anathema.
“Spare the rod & spoil the child” is the (Old Testament) bible text often used to justify hitting children. The same book that tells us that we should tie adulterers (only women, of course), & unmarried non-virgins (again, women only: you lucky lucky people!) to a post & throw rocks at them until they’re dead. I don’t hear those texts being quoted so much – funny, that!
Hitting people in our somewhat less ignorant & backward society, whether with hands, fists, rocks or wooden spoons – regardless of age, size, gender, race, sexual orientation - is now regarded as assault, a criminal offence. Whether the person being hit is a complete stranger, a man, a woman, a child, your spouse, or your child – it makes no difference: it’s hitting, it’s violence, it’s wrong. Hopefully this loophole will now soon be closed & all violence against children will be brought into line with the rest of our criminal justice system.
Apologies if this post offends anyone. I have friends & family who I greatly respect, & even admire, who have religious beliefs: please don’t take it personally x
- Do children need spankings? (karenhigginsbrown.wordpress.com)
- Annalisa Barbieri: Smacking a child teaches nothing (independent.co.uk)
- President Bartlet in “The West Wing” on selective use of bible texts (youtube.com)