Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Big Smack-Down

Watch the pinko liberals come out again and raise the canard of Section 59 of the Crimes Act, linking it to the deaths of innocent children.

As one commie wag claims, “physical violence is a continuum”; that a smack is half-way to a punch, that a punch is half-way to a beating, and that a beating is half-way to death of a child.

Interesting theory from the childless few who pontificate about child-rearing of the masses. In their happy-clappy world, rugby, boxing, and martial arts would be outlawed, as being just a little bit too mean. Violence in movies should be banned, too. People can’t control their ideas, see. They aren’t capable of distinguishing right and wrong. If I see Arnie machine-gunning a tribe of bad guys, I will feel justified in going out and buying the biggest Stinger that a Russian black-market can afford.

But it’s a view that is deeply divorced from reality. Children don’t die when a parent gives an hysterical child a quick smack. I wasn’t seriously harmed when a cranky teacher threw me in a gorse bush. Even Jeremy Clarkson, that bastion of English civility, wasn’t damaged when he was hit in the face by a lemon pie.

There are degrees of violence. Some of them are so minor that to make an issue of them makes the recipient seem like a pansy. Case in point: I am frequently slapped in the face by chicks. Often by fat chicks. I’m not sure why this seems to happen so often, but what kind of wowser would I be to call the police and make a formal complaint? Other times, physical violence is downright entertaining. Recently, I was outside a bar when a guy slapped me. I was fairly surprised by this, so I say to him, as he’s about to run off: “Why are you slapping me like a girl? That’s not even a girl-slap! Come back and do it properly!” But he’d run off by then, and I couldn’t contain myself from the comedy of the situation.

Other times physical violence is reasonable or necessary in the circumstances. Jerry Collins on the rugby field is such a star because when he makes a tackle, the other player takes so much longer to get up afterwards. Jerry is superb to watch. When he’s drunk himself senseless after a game, he’s fairly intimidating, and it’s not wise to stand near him, but on the pitch he’s simply awesome.

Yet those situations are a long way removed from a serious physical beating against a child.

One young child I know frequently gets smacked. It is the discipline of first resort to his parents. I have observed that the child is generally very badly behaved. This frustrates his parents no end. They have never given the child a real beating. It doesn’t take somebody of supreme intelligence to conclude that smacking that child so frequently destroys any shock value in an occasional smack. Is that child in danger of being hit so hard that he suffers serious injury? Of course not. Should his parents consider other forms of discipline that are more effective? Absolutely.

Smacking children is not bad because it may lead to long-term physical harm. It’s not even bad. It is simply neutral, if applied too often. A child learns to put up with the sudden pain. The shock value disappears. When I was a child, had I been given the choice of receiving the wooden spoon or being deprived of the morning cartoons for a week when I misbehaved, I would have taken the wooden spoon every time, knowing that it’s much easier, as a child, to get punishment over with quickly, than to have to face the consequences of my behaviour.

There is a degree of obsessiveness from both sides of the smacking debate: those who ludicrously proclaim that smacking is the only form of discipline that works (when it clearly isn’t), and from the liberals that smacking leads to the deaths of children (when it clearly doesn’t).

Parents need to be empowered with choices. They need to take responsibility for raising their children. They need to have discretion as to how they exercise discipline, and choose the ones that work.

Smacking a child does not denote that a parent wishes to harm a child. If used very rarely, the shock value alone can be useful. But it isn’t a particularly effective tool, especially when used repeatedly. Most parents who take responsibility for their children’s upbringing come to this view, without the interference of a nanny-state imposing ideological positions on parenting.

The occasional smackers are not the cause of society’s social ills. They are a little misdirected, and in most cases probably realise when they have given their children a smack, that they have done so out of their own anger, rather than an intention to correct a child’s behaviour, and feel guilty for not being able to control their own frustration. They certainly don’t need do-gooding politicians telling them they are criminal as well.

What is far more criminal is a social system that encourages a certain group in society to have children that they cannot afford to feed, house, or clothe. Any welfare system that rewards those who cannot take responsibility for themselves to pretend to take responsibility for helpless children, will lead to major social dysfunction.

It is no coincidence that almost all of the young children who have been murdered by caregivers have grown up in dysfunctional homes. The prevalence of welfare, poverty, crime, substance abuse, and poor health is a much greater indicator of serious harm against children than any specific, albeit slightly misguided child-discipline techniques by otherwise lawful middle-class.

So if the Labour Government cares for the safety of children, they will discourage, rather than reward, people to have children that they cannot afford to raise.