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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Never a wise move to defend child smacking

There are times when it’s wisest to shut up and say nowt – even when you’re bursting to have your say.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling should have known that before he whipped up a storm by defending parents’ rights to smack their children. Big mistake that. Huge.

The Tory cabinet minister said he was not opposed to smacking youngsters, claiming sometimes it “sends a message”.

Well, he certainly did that. And although he did his best to put his ordered parental thoughts into a context of clarity, you can bet he’s proper sorry now.

Mr Grayling has two children, aged 20 and 16, and has admitted he occasionally smacked them when they were younger.

“You chastise children when they are bad, as my parents did me,” he said. “I’m not opposed to smacking. It is to be used occasionally. Sometimes it sends a message – but I don’t hanker for the days when children were severely beaten at school.”

It perhaps wasn’t the wisest subject for him to stray into while discussing his plans for making jails more spartan, punishing prisoners more keenly for their crimes. The two areas are entirely unrelated. But he’ll have realised that by now.

He was immediately condemned by children’s charities and protective action and lobby groups, who denounced his preachy confessional as a charter for abuse behind closed doors. You can see their point.

You might well see his too. But in these days of heavily policed thought and speech, it’s probably best not to say so.

In fact, the best idea would be to work out your own way of raising your children, find the most effective ways of chastising and disciplining and say as little as possible. Because it’s bound to be wrong.

There is, of course, an enormous difference between beating the living daylights out of a child and slapping little fingers about to stray into an electric socket or unguarded fire.

Violence in the home, as was inflicted on poor tortured Baby P, compares in no way with an occasional smack that says: “For your own safety and for the safety of others, stop playing chicken on that busy road. Now!”

But if you don’t want to land yourself in hot water or be labelled a monster, don’t go there – not even in polite conversation.

Smacking a child in anger translates into a dangerous loss of control and an absence of the patience required to reason with a youngster who needs to learn the difference between right and wrong. Most parents understand that. Most parents choose to respect the barriers.

Chris Grayling isn’t alone in having been smacked as a child.

He’s not the only parent to have slapped to “send a message”.

But he is a seasoned politician who really should know he’s on a hiding to nothing when he tries to talk about it sensibly.

He may as well have stuck his head and hands in the stocks and waited for the rotten tomatoes.

Have your say

In responce to Natalia's comments.where is your proof that smacking at home creates the trouble makers on the streets,that is sterio typing at it's best, i suppose the two girls who were arrested for the recent riots last year had been subjected to this, (one was an esteemed ballet dancer and one was the daughter of a multi millionaire),or hows about the string of famous musicians kids who run amok urinating over monuments and wrecking hotel rooms,really any teen or youth is capable of crime it depends on their curcumstances,where they are and the spur of the moment, it has nothing to do with smacking,it is a social problem relating to poverty and social envoirament,besides i don't think many parents will hit a teen for fear of a certain retaliation off the child/or teen in responce to a parent hitting them,i think these days it is more uncommom to do this than 10 or 20yrs ago.

Posted by James O on 20 February 2013 at 08:59

In responce to Natalia's comments.where is your proof that smacking at home creates the trouble makers on the streets,that is sterio typing at it's best, i suppose the two girls who were arrested for the recent riots last year had been subjected to this, (one was an esteemed ballet dancer and one was the daughter of a multi millionaire),or hows about the string of famous musicians kids who run amok urinating over monuments and wrecking hotel rooms,really any teen or youth is capable of crime it depends on their curcumstances,where they are and the spur of the moment, it has nothing to do with smacking,it is a social problem relating to poverty and social envoirament,besides i don't think many parents will hit a teen for fear of a certain retaliation off the child/or teen in responce to a parent hitting them,i think these days it is more uncommom to do this than 10 or 20yrs ago.

Posted by James O on 20 February 2013 at 08:58

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