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a loving slap




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‘A loving slap’ is how the former archbishop of Canterbury viewed the hitting of small children when a ban on smacking was aired publicly some years ago. It throws a curious light on his view of loving.

Whatever one’s view may be on the possibility of criminalizing more of our behaviour, there is something faintly disquieting in the pleas of slapping supporters.

Whether it’s attitudes or merely more careful expression of them there has been a marked change in the debate. We no longer hear from the ‘it did me no harm’ constituency. Today most are agreed that slapping whether lovingly or not is undesirable and should be discouraged. Even Tony Blair is sorry that he hit his children (though clearly not for the tough love he is dishing out in Iraq!)

One of the more extraordinary arguments for smacking was presented on Thought for the Day in which Anne Atkins after demolishing the child rearing practices of 7th century BC Sparta, argues that ‘since smacking was banned in Sweden twenty five years ago, genuine abuse has gone up nearly five hundred per cent’. So there you have it.

The recent moves in Parliament have been to change the law to give children the same protection from being assaulted as adults currently enjoy. It should be clear that an assault on a child is as wrong and unlawful as assaulting anyone else.

According children equal protection is often labeled as ‘banning smacking’. It bans ‘smacking’ of children no more and no less than adults are banned from ‘smacking’ each other under the law on assault. But this emotive sound bite trivialises a vital reform that will improve children’s well-being, as is amply demonstrated in at least 12 European countries which have already taken this step without great controversy.
Seven in ten people support a change in the law to give children the same protection from being hit in the family home as that currently enjoyed by adults, according to a new MORI public opinion survey for the Children Are Unbeatable! Only ten per cent would oppose such a move.
Our society has an uneasy and confusing relationship with violence. A broad discussion of this can be found in the PPU’s Saying no to violence- children and peace (from the PPU £9.99) which also looks at the many subtle ways in which children are socialized into a culture of violence. The PPU is the only ‘peace’ group supporting the work of Children Are Unbeatable!




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