Minutes of the Working Party on Defining Smacking as Part of Good Parenting
The following propositions were agreed almost unanimously.
1. Smacking is a vital part of the good parenting repertoire.
2. The Working Party deplores emotive terms such as walloping, thrashing, belting and beating which have been used by the liberal-left elite who oppose good parenting and are contributing to the demise of the nuclear family and western civilization as we know it.
3. Interference by the State in how parents raise their children is unwarranted except where there is harm to the child at which point the full force of the law should be brought to bear.
No agreement was reached on an amendment to Proposition 3 which sought to define and quantify 'harm'.
Ms LL wanted it minuted that judgments about 'harm' are made after the harm has been committed and, all too often, post mortem.
Mr SM wanted it minuted that he had no idea what that minute meant.
To help focus discussion, the Chairman tabled the following questions.
1. At what age is it acceptable for parents to start smacking their children?
It was agreed unanimously that it's unacceptable to smack an infant -which raised the issue of when a child ceases to be an infant.
A majority agreed that a child ceases to be an infant when it becomes a toddler so smacking should not be used until the child starts to walk.
There was a lively discussion about the differential robustness and physical coordination of toddlers and of gender differences.
Ms LL wanted it minuted that it is unacceptable to smack a child younger than 3.
Mr SM wanted it minuted that, as a child's character is formed by the age of 7, the earlier smacking is used, the better.
2. What age does it become unacceptable to smack?
This question resulted in another spirited debate. A consensus was hard to reach because the law is so inconsistent in defining where childhood ends.
Ms LL wanted it minuted that a child should not be smacked after reaching biological adulthood.
Mr SM wanted it minuted that children are reaching puberty earlier these days due to hormones in chicken and if they can't be smacked until they are 3 and their characters are formed by 7 and they reach puberty at 10 it's no wonder the world is going to hell in hand basket.
3. Is it acceptable to smack a disabled child?
As the group was unable to reach any sort of consensus on this, a Disability Sub-Group was formed to examine the question further.
4. Where on the body may a child be smacked?
It was agreed that it is acceptable to smack on the buttocks, the palm or back of the hand and the fleshy parts of the legs.
It is unacceptable to smack in the stomach or abdomen, the kidney region, genitals, head, soles of feet, toes, fingers, or on or near the spine.
Mr SM felt that a poster showing the acceptable and unacceptable smacking areas would be useful.
5. What may a child be smacked with?
It was initially agreed that only an open hand is acceptable. But the question was raised about corporal punishment in schools which some of the group want to see reintroduced.
Some felt that it was unacceptable for a teacher's bare hand to contact a child's skin so corporal punishment in schools would need to be administered by an implement. Mr SB suggested teachers could wear leather gloves.
Questions were raised about the sort of implement, the degree of force and where on the body. Some felt that this ceased to be a smack; others became agitated by the sexual connotations of adults applying straps and canes to children's bottoms so the subject was referred to the Reinstate Corporal Punishment in Schools Working Group.
6. How hard may a child be smacked?
It was agreed unanimously that too hard is unacceptable but not hard enough is ineffective.
Mr SM said he could see a need for a device that allows parents to measure the force of their smacks. This 'smackometer' would measure such things as angle and speed, the size of the hand, the adult's height and weight and the corresponding height and weight of child. He was asked to report back with more details.
7. Should the smack be administered at the point of the transgression or later?
This also resulted in a lengthy debate. Mr SM said that a mother dog would nip a pup immediately if it misbehaved. Ms LL retorted that she was not a bitch and it was wrong to smack in anger. Mr SM cited other examples from the natural world in support of his view. Ms LL responded with examples of animal behaviours which are not used as justification for human conduct.
It was agreed that a consensus would not be reached on this question and it was a matter for the individual to decide.
8. With what frequency may a child be smacked?
It was agreed that too frequent smacking was unacceptable but the group was unable to agree what constituted too frequent.
Mr SM wanted it minuted that there is doctrinal support for the regular use of corporal punishment especially before the age of 7.
9. Should children be smacked in public?
Some were of the opinion that as errant behaviour should be punished immediately, if the behaviour occurred in public the punishment would also be in public. This raised the issue of smacking when angry again. At this point Mr SM stormed out and the meeting was adjourned.