Friday, July 09, 2004


Australian psychologist Frank Furedi says that the campaign against smacking is based on the poisonous notion that children need to be saved from their parents. Some excerpts:

"It is a sign of the times that most British commentators take the view that the amendment to the Children Bill passed by the House of Lords is a 'fudge' or a 'sensible compromise'. This so-called compromise criminalises parents who punish their children with anything more than a light tap. Parents are threatened with prosecution and a jail sentence if a smack leads to grazes or scratches. The reason why many regard this new power to police family life as a compromise is because parents are no longer trusted to punish their children. The campaign against smacking is driven by a wider agenda that seeks to undercut the right of parents to discipline their children. The assumption is that in most cases such parental punishment is likely to have a harmful effect. The principal objective of the campaign against smacking is to save children from their parents.

Anti-smacking campaigners are often motivated by animosity to all forms of tough parenting. Their opposition to physical punishment is linked to a wider hostility to what they perceive as authoritarian parenting styles. The implicit objective of their campaign is to restrain the exercise of parental authority.

One argument used to undermine parental authority is the claim that children should not be treated differently to adults. ... What the campaigners are really saying is that we should renounce any attempt to impose parental will on children and instead negotiate with them as if they were reasoning adults. In the real world, parents have to do many things to their children that they would not dream of doing to another adult. From the moment of birth, mothers and fathers continually impose their will on their babies. Parents who would never instruct an adult to go to bed have no problem demanding that their child should go to sleep on the dot at seven o'clock. Parents who check that their child's bottom is clean are unlikely to do the same to people their own age.

Opponents of smacking claim that scientific research conclusively demonstrates that smacking has long-term negative effects on the behaviour of children. They appeal to research to justify their indictment of 'violence against children'.... There may be good moral arguments for opposing the smacking of children, but they are not to be found in the realm of scientific research. Despite numerous studies, nobody has succeeded in establishing a causal relationship between smacking and negative outcomes for children. That is why the anti-smacking crusade is always searching for 'research' to corroborate its prejudice. American opponents of smacking are often disarmingly open about the need to pursue research that will prove their point and convince parents to abandon smacking. At a 1996 meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Irwin Hyman proposed a campaign of what he called 'advocacy research', using bits of research as propaganda to change public policy...

But make no mistake, the anti-parent crusade will not stop with the partial banning of smacking. They have already pledged to continue campaigning for a total ban. Tomorrow they might demand that parents should be criminalised for using the withdrawal of affection as a form of punishment."

Give the do-gooders an inch and they will take a mile. It feeds their ego to agitate so they will never stop or be satisfied

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