Why is smacking still allowed?

“Britain is now one of just two countries in the EU (the other is the Czech Republic) not to have banned corporal punishment, nor to be considering doing so. If swearing at children is worse than swearing at adults, the same should apply to hitting them. Yet we deny children the protection from assault we give to adults, by permitting “reasonable chastisement” that doesn’t leave a mark. Defenders of the status quo say smacks are different, because they’re admonitory gestures, rather than assaults. But the “idea of the orderly smack”, delivered to teach a lesson, is a myth: “adults mostly hit their children when enraged and out of control”. And concerns that a ban could cause loving parents to be criminalised is not justified by evidence. New Zealand’s government found that such cases have been almost non-existent since smacking was banned there in 2007. More than 100 countries worldwide have outlawed smacking or are about to: Wales and Scotland intend to join them. England will surely follow at some point. So why not do it now.” (Susanna Rustin, The Guardian).

I must say I have mixed feelings about this. I agree that smacking children while angry is a bad thing, but then smouldering anger and grumpiness for the rest of the day isn’t very nice either. As a child I was smacked (actually caned at school and hairbrushed at home). Curiously, I never resented these incidents, for one good reason – I deserved them, and knew it. They were fair. I also learned from them. Not only do I not resent the chastisements, but I think I benefitted from them, since they helped me become more judicious and less impulsive. I still don’t conform but I did learn to apologise, or, with a smile on my face, to politely explain my actions in a persuasive way. Accepting that you have broken the rules and listening to calm reasoning for your punishment makes you, eventually, a better adult. Children have to have boundaries.