What Are Your Thoughts On The Recent Smacking Ban? {Discussion}

Happy Monday, lovely Rock My readers. Today’s discussion post is all about smacking, hot on the heels of the recent news that smacking is to be banned in Scotland. Under the new law, parents may face a criminal charge if they use physical punishment to discipline their kids.

Whether you’re of the view that “It never did me any harm”, or if you’re of the mindset that smacking is inhumane and unnecessary, we would love to hear your thoughts.

What do you make of Scotland’s decision to ban smacking?

Were you smacked when you were little? Is it a generation thing?

Do you or will you smack your children? Is it ever ok to smack a child?

Photography by This And That Photography

The loves of Lisa’s life are Rich and their kids, Lyra and Jenson. Although she does wish they would let her have a shower in peace every once in a while.

33 Comments. Leave new

I think it is insane that smacking isn’t banned everywhere!

The world thank goodness has moved on and is still moving on from the mindset of many moons ago ‘a clip round the ear didn’t do me any harm’

I think it is a real abuse of the special privilege you have as a parent to smack your child to promote good behaviour.

If as an adult we were to be smacked we would be outraged and would have grounds to report it to the police… if we were smacked by a person we loved and trusted to promote good behaviour it is quite rightly labelled as domestic violence!

Yet smacking a child, someone who looks to us for guidance and is half our size is not illegal and somehow accepted by many still it would appear?!?

I am certain this will be one of the things we look at in years to come and think how crazy it was that smacking children wasn’t banned until 2017 onwards!

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I remember getting a few smacks as a child and am in no way traumatised by it. I think the decision to ban smacking is over the top and really don’t think it will be possible to police it. Child abuse is different in my opinion and this ban is just a step too far.
My kids are quite young so haven’t really reached that stage of discipline yet but I’m not against smacking. It would be used as a last resort for me.

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I think this is far too an emotive topic for a Monday morning and is one where people have no respect for the other side’s view so I’m expecting a bit of vocal argy bargy. It’s a bit of a jump from ‘do you let your kids have screen time’.

I received light taps on the legs from my parents in the 1980s and always thought I’d parent similarly. I personally have no issue with it per se. Saying that, now I am a parent, I haven’t ever smacked or tapped either of them because it’s never felt right. We do time out. I’ve been known to hold their hands firmly to get them to the car. To be fair, that’s probably the same amount of force exerted as a light tap on the legs would be.

Although, devils advocate. You could easily atttibute the same arguments to time out – ‘that’s so old fashioned’ and ‘if anyone made us sit somewhere in isolation for one minute for my age’ then we’d report them to the police etc. etc

I actually don’t think the law will change anything. Those that were likely to lose their temper and use excessive force are likely to still do it anyway, regardless of its illegality.

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I don’t think a topic like this is going to end well and I agree it is highly emotive. What I will say is that if people come from traumatic backgrounds where violence was involved they may smack their children. A lot of them don’t want to do it and work ruddy hard to ensure it doesn’t ever happen again. It can make them feel like the worst parents in the world.

It has upset me seeing this article here this morning.

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I don’t smack and never intend to, although I’ve definitely been pushed to the limits where I nearly have before…but I’ve realised that it’s been when I’m tired/bad tempered and often nothing to do with how my kids are behaving so I tend to take myself away if I get that stressed.

I was smacked by my mum and we have a terrible relationship. It only occurred to me a few months ago, when having this same conversation with a friend, that I was smacked until I was 16, when I threatened to ‘smack’ back. Of course by then it was more than smacking, I just didn’t realise it until recently!

It has made me realise that for my mum smacking was a control mechanism and a way of getting me to comply. It was coupled with a lot of emotional abuse, especially as I grew older and I think that smacking me from a young age perhaps made her feel entitled to carry on; if you do smack, at what age do you stop?!

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I’m not against smacking. I got a few smacks as a kid and have no issue with how I was brought up.
The ban is ridiculous in my opinion,a step too far and impossible to police.
My kids aren’t at that stage of discipline yet and it would be a last resort for me but I think it’s up to the family what works for them.

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Yikes a very controversial topic for a Monday morning! I was smacked occasionally as a child and I don’t feel it has harmed me, but having said that I don’t feel I want to smack my own children though I admit I have come very close on occasion when my patience has been tested to its limits and nothing else seems to be working. The thing that stops me is that I’m trying to teach my daughter not to push / smack / hurt her brother when she’s annoyed at him so how can I do that if I hurt her when I’m annoyed at her? I’m very aware of the confusing example it would set. However I also feel it’s wrong to judge other parents as being ‘abusers’ if they occasionally smack – the odd smack when a child is being very naughty and not listening to reason is not the same to me as child abuse. I’m fully aware that’s not everyone’s opinion but it is mine. Also some people have more patience than others and some children test patience a lot more than others, so it is hard to judge when you haven’t walked in that persons shoes.
I’d love a post on alternative discipline methods – personally I don’t get on with ‘the naughty step’, I find getting an already upset and emotional child to stay sitting on a step for a prescribed amount of time feels a bit pointless and expecting too much self control from them in that situation and I’m not sure what it achieves. I would say as well that I’ve read articles about the whole naughty step concept being deemed as humiliation and emotional abuse by some now, so as parents it’s so hard to know how to discipline children and make sure they know right from wrong without physically or emotionally abusing them 😕 X

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We do the naughty step and have since she turned one. Generally she isn’t upset and emotional, she’s cross. She’s had her warning and has chosen to do it again. She has always had very high levels of self control and concentration so I think it very much depends on the child.

I’m definitely an advocate of early consistent discipline (consistent between parents and nursery/pre-school). I think because we did it from an early age it worked better. We then do the Supernanny thing of “we put you there because” and hugs and kisses.

We are big BIG advocates of “you choose”. I feel like I say it on repeat “you can choose to do XXX again and sit on the step or you can choose to be kind and play together”. I think the notion of choice is a technique from Hand in Hand parenting which generally I find a bit airy fairy but some of it is useful – interestingly some of my friends were talking this weekend and Hand in Hand can work better with second children it seems.

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Not my real name
23rd October 2017 8:31 am

I’m going to front up and say I have once smacked. I will never ever do it again. It’s ineffective, it’s upsetting and it flies in the face of all the hours and hours of love care and teaching her to be kind. It was awful (she wasn’t bothered after the initial incident- it wasn’t hard- but I cried) and I still feel ashamed by the whole thing. Never again. Never.

Anything anyone says to me here I have already said to myself a hundred times.

I don’t think changing the law is anything more than a gesture and perhaps one that should be made BUT I believe more funding and training for health visitors (we have great HVs, they should be more like this everywhere), therapists and children’s centres would be far more effective in reaching people and improving our parenting as a nation. And that’s not happening.

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YES this is such a good point and resonates with my point above that I just feel I don’t know HOW to discipline sometimes. Where do you get the help and support for dealing with bad behaviour? This is why I think it’s unfair to judge parents who smack when they reach the end of their tether – that’s great for some people if they obviously have a huge amount of patience / have some other good techniques for dealing with testing behaviour but what if you don’t? Parents should help and support each other not make each other feel like they’re an abuser who’s damaged their child for life by smacking occasionally. I hope people can be kind on this discussion and leave their judgey pants at the door…

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Sarah have a look at Janet Lansbury. I am not a fan of the naughty step so find her techniques useful. A lot of “I understand you are feeling angry with your brother because x but you don’t push” rather than punishment per se. I find it works very well, if you as parent aren’t at the end of your rope… it was great after baby brothers arrival as there’s a big focus on how feelings are fine and finding acceptable outlets for them. I am constantly reminding myself that I am the grown up and to stay calm and consistent… it’s a battle!

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I was smacked as a child, but it didn’t make me behave better. I think it was used when my parents were at the end of their tether rather than when I’d acted particularly badly. I don’t think it’s affected me badly as most kids got smacked occasionally back then. I would never do it to my little girl though. I agree that it’s really just a form of domestic violence and it’s surprising that it’s taken so long to ban properly.

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I use a smack very occasionally when his behaviour escalates to snap him out of it but in general I use it more as a threat when he is kicking/punching/pinching or biting it’s used as a would you like it if mummy did that to you? Which usually works. Naughty step works a treat when he is worked up and hysterical. You can hear him slowly calm down and the you can have that conversation of why did you do that. Even if he’s off the scale I always say you are sitting here for 2 minutes because…
Im not sure a ban is a good thing. Such a topic for a Monday!

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I would never smack my child. How are we supposed to teach them to manage their emotions and ‘use their words’ rather than hitting – it we just hit them when we lose control.
However I was VERY occasionally smacked as a child and I think it shocked me into realising my Mum was bloody serious and I better wise up. She is the most caring, loving mother ever and I don’t feel that she ‘abused’ me. Like I say it was rare……but of course there are families where children being hit hard and often and the law is to designed, I would imagine, to protect them.

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I was smacked as a child, nothing worse than a smack on the bottom so I don’t feel traumatised by it.

Personally, I won’t smack my children. I don’t want to teach them that violence is ever the answer and also I wouldn’t hit my husband so why is it ok to smack my children?

I realize that’s simplifying things somewhat but it’s the gist of my thoughts.

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This is such a personal topic I don’t think one person’s view will match another’s. I don’t want to be a parent that smacks their children however on a very rare occasion I have firmly tapped (not walloped) my two yr old or firmly pushed his hand away (ie when he reached for a hot cuppa). If I do a gentle smack on his bottom I do feel a bit annoyed with myself (even with a padded nappy on) after so I know I don’t really want to do it. I’m trying hard to just step away from the situation rather than hit. I think it sends a wrong message to young children that it’s ok to hit if someone is doing something you don’t want them to. I don’t think a rare last resort gentle smack on the bottom is abuse nor that it would damage a child but I can understand why people don’t do it. Everybody parents differently and I would never judge someone who occasionally smacked their child. There is obviously a line though that can be crossed & i guess that’s why the ban is coming into place.

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Interesting views above. My baby is too young for this to be an issue yet but I really, really, really hope that smacking is never used in our household. I think there’s a distinction between a ‘firm tap’ as mentioned a few times above and really being hit, but this is obviously subjective. No one would see it as an acceptable way of managing behaviour for someone with dementia or learning disabilities so why would it be for a small child? I was never hit as a child, my husband was and I think it was a very negative thing for him and his siblings. We have discussed that I will explain to his parents when our little one is a bit older that they must never smack our child as discipline at any time in the future…a fun conversation I’m sure!!!

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As a side note I think it’s worth saying that while I DO completely understand the reasoning of ‘I wouldn’t smack my partner so why would I smack my child’ I think we do have to recognise that actually we do treat our children differently to other adults and we have to. I wouldn’t enforce a bedtime on my husband or make him have a bath or tell him what he can eat for dinner either, but I do with my children! If a husband tried to control what his wife wore to work that would be deemed controlling and abusuve but I control what my child wears to nursery and it often ends in tears but I still have to enforce it because I’m doing it for her own good. I get that smacking is over the line for a lot of people but just making the point that we don’t treat our children the same way as we treat other adults in many ways, no parent does.

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In the context of reasoning with or conflicting opinions though it’s completely relevant. I wouldn’t lose my temper and hit my husband. I wouldn’t resort to it if I was trying to get a point across because I was angry.

That’s the point I was making above. Not regarding getting dressed and putting to bed – I assumed that distinction is quite obvious or I would have elaborated above!

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Personally I would never smack my children for a variety of reasons, most of which have been mentioned. I think it says more about the parent than the child i.e. you’ve lost control and I would discipline my children if they hit/kicked etc so how could I then justify hitting them myself? Also I would never obviously hit my husband and physical violence is never the answer especially as an adult, so why would be it be acceptable to do that to a child?

I’ve never been smacked but on one occasion my dad was within a whisker of doing it and my mum stopped him. It was a terrifying experience and I still remember it vividly so it had a huge impact on me. I have a great relationship with both my parents but that is something that stuck. On the other hand my husband was smacked by his mum, she is open about it being because she didn’t know what else to do but she didn’t hit him or his brother hard, so I don’t think it had the effect she wanted anyway. It certainly hasn’t bothered my husband but he wouldn’t do it himself either.

The ban I think is more to send a message that it’s not acceptable, but I agree it would be impossible to police.

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Gosh, talking about smacking children, even on a lovely supportive place like RMF can be a triggering subject especially for people with a history of this, thanks for everyone’s comments.

Personally I think there is a huge difference between using the appropriate amount of force to get a child into a car seat/off the floor during a tantrum etc and willfully choosing to smack a child as a form of discipline/threatening to hit a child as a form of control.

I am also aware, through my line of work, that using physical violence/smacking as punishment may be effective in the short term (child is hurt/scared so stops bad behaviour) but really ineffective in the long term as children curb their bad behaviour out of fear of an external threat not out of being able to internally regulate their own behaviour.Obviously there will be exceptions to this rule but Research on anti social behaviour of children who are smacked vs those who aren’t demonstrates this is generally what happens.

As parents I believe our focus should be teaching and modelling positive values and behaviour in the context of having a loving relationship and connection with our child.I don’t believe there is a place for smacking in this. However I fully appreciate that small children are huge patience testers and that we all may lose control and lose our tempers occasionally.

I also think that now a lot of parents don’t have access to a wide supportive community network then more training from health visitors etc on evidence based forms of discipline would be brilliant.For example, personally I am aware that if I followed my emotions rather than my knowledge of the evidence base in my parenting I would have made some pretty poor choices at times, there’s space for both with the right support. In terms of discipline I believe we should be aiming for respect not fear.

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I just want to say that although this is a controversial topic I think it’s a really good thing that Rock My Family chose to create this post. Parenting is full of decisions, challenges and differences of opinions and having a forum like this where issues can be discussed in a safe and respectful manner is very refreshing. I also think bringing in tricky topics that are in the news is a great dimension to the site. Love all the pretty and personal stories posts too though!! So thank you for the contrast this morning X

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Just to add I actually had a friend smack her child in front of me, at my house the other week. I did not think this would bother me and I don’t judge other peoples parenting if I can at all help it…..however it DID shock me. I had to massively bite my tongue and I didn’t like seeing it. She is a wonderful mother….I still think she is a wonderful mother……but it didn’t sit well that an over tired naughty 2 year old got a smack for just being a typical 2 year old. I guess my internal rection tells me how I feel on the topic!
Do I think I would have had the right to call the police – NO. I think a law is a step too far. There are already laws in place for people who do actually beat or neglect their children. A law for a smack is ridiculuous and impossible to enforce.

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I thought it might be interesting for people to read that actual proposal to change the law in Scotland and the reasoning behind it :
“The aim of this proposal is to promote and safeguard the health and well-being of children and young people by ensuring they are afforded the same right to protection from assault as adults; this would be achieved by ending the current legal position that the physical punishment of children can be viewed as justifiable assault.
Today we know more than ever before about child development, the importance of relationships in a child’s early years and what this means for the long-term health of
individuals, communities and society.
It is clearly important, not just for those bringing up children but for wider society, to
ensure that parents set clear boundaries, provide children with consistent and effective
guidance, and help them learn acceptable and appropriate behaviours. Physical
punishment is often cited as a form of parental discipline. However, discipline and physical punishment are not the same. Discipline can be achieved through a range of techniques, which do not require the physical punishment of a child. Indeed the majority
of parents in Scotland don’t like the idea of physical punishment and doubt it works.
A robust body of international evidence shows that they are right.2 Rather than showing children the right way to behave, physical punishment can instead make children’s problem behaviour worse and can lead to a vicious circle of escalating conflict. The evidence shows that this has consequences both for individual families and for Scotland’s public health as a whole. Physical punishment damages children’s well-being and results in increased levels of violence in our communities.
This consultation document sets out the case for strengthening the law in Scotland, to prohibit all forms of physical punishment of children.
Full consultation can be read here: http://www.parliament.scot/S5MembersBills/John_Finnie_Final_Consultation_Document_pdf.pdf
I am Scottish and the mother of two young boys and I am proud that the Scottish Government plan to follow through with this proposal.

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Just a quick comment to say I was smacked as a child by my mum. I’m not quite clear how regularly but it certainly wasn’t a light tap. This definitely made me generally quite scared of my mum when I was under 10. But the biggest thing it taught me was that it was o.k to hit my younger brother. I am ashamed to think about how vicious I was with him.

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I was smacked a couple of times as a child, no harm done, I’m close to my mum and understand why she did it and why others might choose to. That said, I know I couldn’t smack my children. I teach them that violence isn’t the answer, and we don’t hit people, so how confusing would that be if I then smacked them. I have considered it in the past when my eldest has really lost it, but then I realised I thought about smacking then because I’d lost it too.

Agree with the comments that some thoughts on alternative discipline would be good. We use the naughty step, it has mixed success.

I admire RMF for getting us to openly discuss these issues, good on you.

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Another point about laws- I recently saw someone smoking in the car with their two little ones (under 5) instead of doing it outside in the rain. This is illegal. I know it’s illegal. I was too nervous to say “stop” and I do feel I should have reported them but to who? Would the police have taken action if I rang 101? Do I take their number plate? Is that a bit Stasi? I read online it’s unenforceable for the police and suspect this will be the same. Unless you get a fine and a parenting course on behaviour management akin to the speed awareness one?

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I agree – Social Services are pushed to the limit dealing with serious abuse cases – whatever your view, you have to recognise that a light tap on the legs is less severe than serious abuse. I’m worried this will just add to an already overloaded system. There is also the argument that where will it stop? Will raising your voice be banned soon because its verbal abuse?

I do have my suspicions its all a bit of PR rather than a weighed and thorough, well funded policy.

Who exactly is going to be funding such a parenting course? And seriously, parents get it in the neck enough….making someone go on a “parenting course” is just going to make overworked, stressed parents feel even worse, even more guilty….

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To me it’s looking at the law not the act. The law says if you touch an adult on the tube or bus you have assaulted them, technically speaking. But they don’t call the police. But if you touch them in any way they were uncomfortable with or injures them they have the right to, regardless of your intent.
It’s hard to draw a line into what is behaviour management and what is child abuse. I think making the law for a child and the law for an adult the same is the best thing. How it is enforced is maybe a different matter. But if my friends found out I smacked my husband every time he didn’t take the flippen bins out I would want them to have the same reaction to if they found out I hit a child because they didn’t do as I instructed.
I was hit as a child and don’t believe it has affected me but I dont believe that is a good enough reason for it not to be law. Sorry for those who disagree. After all a man exposed himself to me 2 years ago and right now I don’t believe it had effected me but I am glad it is against the law and I could call the police. People I know have been punched by strangers and I don’t believe it has effected them but I am glad it’s against the law.

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I agree, it’s about Equality and children having the same rights as adults. If it’s ok to lightly smack a child as a form of discipline is it also ok to do the same to an adult with dementia who now acts like a child, or an adult with a disability that has restricted their mental development beyond that of a child’s age – of course it isn’t so why should it be different for children?

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I don’t have an issue with topics like this being discussed on RMF. I think it’s totally relevant.
I was smacked as a chid if I crossed the line. There is a massive difference between a light smack and beating up a child. This is once again a good example of society going mad.

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First of all, lovely comments and I’m glad that no shaming took place. It Shows again what a great Group of People has become part of RMF!
This said, I don’t see why it would make a difference for this post to be on here on any other day, it doesn’t matter that it appeared on Monday morning…
I also really like this about RMF that you aren’t too scared to offer some topics. Especially now that awareness is being raised by what is going on in Scotland.
I know I’ve been smacked as a child and I don’t think it harmed me in any way and I have a great relationship with both my parents.
However I did smack my Little son once when I lost my temper. Yes he cried, but honestly I think it hurt me more. I was so ashamed! It was then and there that I decided, I don’t want to do this again. I’m not saying I will never lose my temper again, but I will try damn hard to step away. I also found the idea really hard to explain to him when he gets older that hitting is not ok, but I do it to him?
Great post and great discussion! I also just ordered the Janet Lansbury book to broaden my horizon so thank you RMF!

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Smacking doesn’t work. If it did, then you wouldn’t have to smack somebody twice! Also, teachers would still be using it.

What you’re telling a child is that it’s ok for me to smack you but you can’t smack anyone.

My biological mum beat the crap out of us at times. Did it stop the behaviour that she didn’t want? no. Am I scarred for life? No. Would I do the same to my child? No.

When we got older, we hit back. Sometimes we’d laugh at her and jump out the way. My Dad on the other hand, never lifted a finger to us. He used the correct language and that utterly terrifying phrase “I’m so disappointed…” Who do you think we were most scared of? I left my mum’s home at 15 and went to live with my Dad. I now have no contact with her.

We are evolving and learning with every decade. There’s plenty of behaviour management tools out there that do work.

This law isn’t for most families. It’s for the ones that you see out in the street or supermarkets. The ones you hear effing and blinding at their children, calling them stupid and smacking them across the head/face. Social Services won’t be inundated with calls. It will just make it easier to to do something with the ones that are already on their radar.

Parenting classes are useful and much needed. I had a family referred to one because their daughter was only 7 yet weighed 8 stone! Her periods had started because she was so big. They went to healthy eating classes. I remember them commenting that they learned how many calories were in a pot noodle and were shocked. You’d think that they would have read the info on the packet but they didn’t.

Just because you are a parent, doesn’t mean you know how to parent. Most people on social services radars didn’t have good role models themselves, so how can we expect them to parent their own children correctly. There’s a terrible cycle in society that needs to be broken. If this Law brings awareness to those that use smacking as a first and only method of behaviour management then great. Hopefully they’ll look into other ways or ask their social worker/ child’s teacher for advice.

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