Late last week households around the country received their referendum envelope that asks “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence?”
Leaving aside the ambiguity and lack of clarity in that question, the lack of opinion based on fact and any semblance of common sense apart from Chicken Licken Family Fist blathering about god knows what, it’s not surprising that in our short term mindframes we can’t think too far ahead lest we self implode.
While the removal of s59 is not intended to stop child abuse, it has the ability to start reducing our shocking abuse rates which are amongst the highest in the world.
Complaints to the police on parents smacking their children have increased in the past two years since the law was enacted. With the rise in complaints, it now affords the police the chance to investigate the home lives of those who have complaints laid against them. Parents who run a good household have the least to fear as the police will generally see that the children are well looked after and they don’t fear their own parents as they don’t live under the threat of “getting a hiding”. Police see this, and determine the nature of the complaint is “not in the public interest to prosecute.”
Contrast this with a visit to a home where the recycling bin is full to overflowing with beer bottles, the house has that acrid tang of tobacco and marijuana, and shouting can often be heard, it can be a good indicator of the way the kids in that home are treated. After all, what self respecting parent is going to carry a belt out in public to thrash their kids with the buckle end? It’s a smack now, a hiding later at home.
Using the police stats here we can determine the following:
Attitudes in society are changing, and the public are no longer content to sit by and watch parents belt their kids. Based on the overwhelming public response against the perception that “smacking is illegal” it seems parents choose to ignore those who do nothing more than smack with the hand, but are reporting anything over and above a smack – like punching a 4 year old in the face.
The way I see it, the long term prognosis for this attitude is positive. If the populace continues to believe that a light smack shouldn’t be illegal, but ever other form of discipline is, then maybe, just maybe, our children will no longer be seeing their classmates come to class on Monday morning with a black eye and fat lip.