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Do you (or did you) smack your children? Let’s hope not

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Answers you often hear from people who admit to smacking their children include “being smacked never did me any harm” and “it was being smacked that made me the man (or woman) I am today”. The reply to both of these answers has to be “It did” – i.e. it accounts for the damaged person you are today.

That might sound like an over-strong statement, but there is a wealth of evidence to back it up. Studies have been conducted over a very long period – around 50 years – into the long-term consequences of corporal punishment, and the overwhelming conclusion is that a child who is regularly physically chastised will end up as a damaged adult.

The damage can take the form of being aggressive towards other people – smacked children will often become smacking parents, and/or abusive partners – or the results can be depression, alcoholism or low self-esteem. Smacking is a form of child abuse, and all such abuse is dangerous because the psychiatric effects can last for the rest of someone’s life.

There is no evidence that smacking has any benefits. A smacked child may stop their naughtiness for a short time, but so will one who has had a severe talking-to. However, smacked children are more likely, not less, to misbehave in future and to become antisocial. A child who runs out of the house to avoid another slap is quite likely to take out their frustration on the neighbour’s cat or car tyres, or do something equally unwelcome.

Smacking can only do harm to relationships between parents and children. What parent really wants their child to fear them first and love them second – or not at all?

Smacking is illegal in many countries around the world. Sweden was the first to ban it, back in 1979, and 52 more have followed suit since then. In 2017 it was banned in Scotland but not in the rest of the United Kingdom – teachers are not allowed to hit a child but parents can.

Of course, passing a law is one thing, but enforcing that law is another thing altogether, especially when the offence takes place within the privacy of the home. A majority of parents in the UK think that smacking should not be banned, and if it is was made illegal there is no guarantee that it would not still happen.

But if everyone was made aware of the long-term damage that smacking does, in terms of poor mental and physical health in later life, might they change their minds? Let’s hope so.


What do you think?

Written by Indexer


  1. I totally agree with you and the article is perfect reminder that something should be done to realize and stop immediately such a kind of physical punishment and the unwanted consequences not just as the fact of physical pain, but the decreasing the self-esteem of a child, the violation experienced on its skin, when helpless to stop it and can’t do anything to change that so parallelly to that, the child acknowledge an emotion of anger, bitterness, sadness, bad treatment by its parents that rise up hidden inside with years. When it grows up, besides being good and kind, those unwanted emotions: anger, bitterness sadness are reflected in its personality and he/it will act the same or more agressive way to his own family.

  2. I don’t know how “smacking” is define in this post. I tend to think it’s okay to hit a child, but it shouldn’t be done out of anger or excessive.

    A punishment system should be set in place so that children know that there are consequences.

    Like 1 hit on the palm for lying and when they’re punished or hit, they should be told why and what kind or punishment they’ll get. Some parents doesn’t explain why a child is punished or gets too critical, that is usually more of the reason why these children grow up damaged or broken.

    I believe its not hitting that does the damage but excessive and unreasonable hitting (or smacking) and being too critical that damages a child.

    • The question is – where does the boundary lie between OK and excessive? If you take physical punishment out of the equation altogether you will not have to answer this question.

      • I guess that’s a theory but well, we can’t just avoid a thing so that we can avoid a troublesome thing, especially if its helpful. But it could be me, I still believe some form of physical punishment is needed. BUT I’m strongly against violence.

        Basically a system of punishment and rewards need to be in place. You do this, you’ll get punished and it means being hit by a ruler on the palm or butt. Repeat it and the number increase … blah.

        • Punishments do not need to be physical! The withdrawal of privileges is what works in school environments (where corporal punishment is now illegal in many countries including the UK), and it can also work in the home.

          There is no getting away from it – physical punishment IS violence!