Smacking – Punishment or crime?

Recently there has been a law passed in Scotland that parents cannot hit their children if they are under the age of three. There have been many arguments as to whether it is right or wrong to hit young children. Parents in Scotland will also not be able to punish a child of any age around the head or with an implement.

There are many different views and opinions on this matter around the world; in Sweden it is illegal for a child to be smacked at any age and – in the USA – children have the right to 'divorce' their parents. A father in Scotland spent his Christmas in prison after smacking his daughter in a dentist surgery. Circumstances are therefore getting quite serious.

In this essay I am going to discuss the above issues. There are many arguments for and against smacking young children; the following are some we discussed. Certain parents would feel incredibly uncomfortable punishing their children this way; some feel that it would ruin the relationship between them and their children which could be true as it may destroy the relationship. The child could feel frightened of the parent on a regular basis as smacking often causes emotional scars, it's not something a young child would forget easily.

They would probably remember their punishment for a long period and this is what I mean by an emotional scar. Smacking could have a psychological affect on the child, for example, insecurity and inadequacy which could become a problem and parents should therefore think about this before their actions.

Some believe that violence does not solve problems as children who grow up with violence will probably be violent themselves; they might grow up thinking this is the answer to anger and therefore they will probably end up being violent parents and their children would receive the same treatment as they were subjected to by older adults.

Children under the age of three are not aware of morals so how are they going to have any idea about what is right or wrong? Young children probably get punished for mostly small reasons, for example constantly crying or crawling into dangerous areas; there isn't really much a child can do 'wrong' under the age of three, so what do they benefit from being smacked? Some parents even admit to smacking babies, because of endless crying for example. I can understand parents losing their temper and becoming very frustrated as it is not easy looking after a young child but they should try and calm down before lashing out at the children, as smacking a young child is dangerous and could bring on physical damage, especially if they are harmed around the head.

Personally I think it would be an idea to think of an alternative punishment, for example a punishment that is not harmful. If you have a young child, say, who has a habit of crawling towards a gas fire then the parent should think of putting up a safety barrier to keep the toddler away. It is unfair for any adult to bully a small child with physical violence – children as human beings should have the same rights as adults.

Although personally I don't agree with smacking children there are many parents who believe they have the right to smack children for many fair reasons, the following are a few arguments that parents use. Some parents use the phrase "who are you to tell me how to raise my child?" This is often heard as parents feel it is very personal and that it is up to them how they raise their children, they don't want anybody else's thoughts or opinions as they see it as "none of their business" and others do not have the right to get involved.

Some parents feel that it is their right to hit a child as it should be left to their own decision. Many children have behaviour problems and parents can feel under pressure and stressed, therefore they feel it is an easy way of control and that it is immediate. Some need to discipline their children and teach them the difference between right and wrong as these parents believe children who are not smacked will grow up with no respect for rules or authority. There are many other different reasons and beliefs, for example particular religious people have said that smacking is actually justified in the Bible. Some believe that smacking your child shows that parents care for them and makes children respect their guardians/parents.

After reading the arguments used by parents I have come to the conclusion that smacking children under the age of three should be banned; personally I believe that it is a complete cowardly act to lash out at a young child by someone who should be responsible and know better. In my view it is just another form of bullying and the child would not benefit from this as they will just end up being bullies themselves.

This would be the parent or guardian's own fault for putting the child in a violent environment. I also think that it is a crime as it could lead to danger, for example physical and emotional scars. Some parents do not realise the psychological affect smacking could have on their children, after all it is physical abuse and a child at that age cannot do anything about it.

However, parents have a lot to put up with these days and caring for young children is not an easy job for any young parent. It is a good idea if a single parent has someone with them, e.g. close family or friends so they would therefore not feel so much pressure. Parents begin to lose their temper and patience as young children become hyperactive and/or start to constantly cry and crawl into dangerous places; parents become frustrated with their children and this is when the problems start.

Some parents could prevent these problems though by minimising the dangers in the household and by making use of relatives and friends to babysit on occasions. This is my personal opinion on smacking and, although I think it is wrong, I understand that there are two sides to the problem and I'm sure the debate on this topic will continue.