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11.16.2003

UK to ban corporal punishment? 

That's what members of the Labour party in Parliament want to do. Excerpt:


Parents' right to smack their children would finally be abolished under a historic attempt to outlaw physical punishment within the home.

The Government is expected to include new laws on protecting children from abuse in the Queen's Speech next week, in response to the death of Victoria ClimbiƩ, the little girl who was killed in London by her great-aunt after social workers missed glaring signs that she was in danger.

Labour MPs are planning to tack an amendment onto the Child Protection Bill which would outlaw parental smacking, following warnings that too many abusive parents cover up ill-treatment by insisting that bruises are the result of 'normal' discipline. They are optimistic that Ministers will allow a free vote on the issue.

'The abolition of a husband's right to beat his wife surely did something about the status of women in our society, and in the same way this is about another kind of domestic violence,' said David Hinchliffe, chair of the Commons Health Select Committee.

'In every single classroom in this country there will be at least one child getting hit [at home]. More than one child a week dies at the hands of a parent or carer. For me, this is unfinished business and I want to see this change through before I go,' he said.

(snip)

However, many parents may fear being hauled through the courts for a slap that had been delivered in the heat of the moment. Three-quarters of parents in one Department of Health survey admitted they had hit their children.



While I think an outright ban is overboard, the last paragraph above illustrates quite well why I think spanking is generally ineffective and can be dangerous. If corporal punishment is done in a fit of heated anger, the message of discipline isn't communicated. The messages that are communicated are that (1) Dad (or Mom) is really angry and (2) it's okay to hit people when you're really angry.

I suppose corporal punishment can be administered in a level-headed and loving way, but if so, why not just take the time to discipline your child in some other fashion?

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