How to resist the urge to smack a child

I DON'T think parents should hit their kids. Mostly because I don't think anyone should hit anyone, but also because there's no evidence that it actually works and plenty of evidence that it's harmful.

The old "to smack or not to smack" debate has been ignited again after a paper published in the International Journal of Child Rights argues it's time the Australian Government took "steps to prohibit corporal punishment".

One of the authors, Territory QC Felicity Gerry, said 49 countries had reformed laws to clearly ban all corporal punishment of children.

"It is not acceptable for the UK, the USA and Australia to remain missing from the list," Ms Gerry said. "It is high time to end the defence of reasonable chastisement. The removal of this defence would effectively remove the hidden nature of physical punishment of children and then allow for health and policy responses along with clear legal guidance on when to prosecute or not."

Ms Gerry, a law lecturer at Charles Darwin University, said that while corporal punishment might have a high rate of immediate behaviour modification, research showed that it was ineffective over time.

The paper found that hitting children as part of discipline was "deeply embedded in cultural views, government law and social policy" in Australia, the US and UK.

Now, I know how irate parents get when they're told how to parent, particularly when it is coming from someone without kids, but I won't let that stop me.

Rest assured parents; just because I don't have kids doesn't mean I haven't wanted to smack them before.

As someone sitting firmly in the "don't smack" camp, here's how I avoid throwing haymakers at children.

When anyone under the age of 16 has ever sat behind me in a plane they've relentlessly kicked the back of my chair.

I only ever fly the most budget of budget airlines so usually my temper is already frayed before I make it into my flimsy seat.

Speaking of the flimsy seats, I find just the mere fiddling with an iPad being constantly pulled in and out of the seat pockets is enough to make my hand twitch without even adding the constant "boff, boff, boff" of a kicky child.

But I don't turn around and "boff, boff, boff" on the little fella's head.

I just do the really passive aggressive loud sighing to teach them the ways of conflict-adverse adults.

When my friend's daughter came over one day and she threw the entire contents of my handbag off the balcony all I wanted to do was chuck her over the balcony to go and fetch it.

It wasn't a very high balcony, but still, you can't be throwing kids off them.

Instead I threw her colouring-in book off the balcony to show her how it felt.

She's only three but I think she'll come to regard that as a real turning point - all without needing a little clip around the ear.

In all seriousness though, I just don't understand how we could ever hope to combat the issue of family violence in a culture that thinks it is OK to smack kids for "discipline".

Violence begets violence, I say.

News Corp Australia

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