According to Sky News ,parents in Scotland are no longer allowed to smack their children after the passing of a law making physical punishment illegal.
This gives children the same protection from violence as adults by removing the defense of ‘justifiable assault’.
It also means Scotland has become the first country in the UK to make physical punishment a criminal offence, bringing the country in line with United Nations recommendations.
A similar law was also passed in South Africa in early September 2019, also making the spanking of children unconstitutional.
In my opinion, children should be protected against every form of assault and violence especially in the home, a place which is supposed to be a child’s safest heaven.
However, spanking has been entrenched in certain cultures as a way to correct a child, especially in African cultures. As an African (as most Africans can relate ), the fear of spanking keeps you in check! This is the oldest trick of the trade of parenthood and it works! We cannot share enough stories of when legendary spanking/smacking reset our brains to good old kids.
But then, we understood that spanking didn’t mean our parents didn’t love us, it was simply, ‘If you do something bad, then you better get ready for what’s coming to you’. That kept us in line; honest, obedient, respectful to elders, not playing in the living room *when we can help it* and in general being a good kid.
There were also alternatives to smacking then such as leather sandals, wooden spoons and lazer eyes. You know, that look especially from mothers, that says “don’t try me!”
While we reminisce on the old correctional method of upbringing, i dare say we are in a time where things need to be changed especially now that gender-based violence and violence towards children has experienced an alarming rise in the past years. A study by the United Nations in 2017 shows that children who live with their guardians and not biological parents as they are the easiest targets of domestic violence.
While we welcome this new change of protecting children from violence, child right organizations should also look towards sensitization for parents and guardians on proper correctional methods and encourage healthy environments for growing children. The focus should be on what other disciplinary measures can parents adopt? because whether we like it or not, children need to learn that there are consequences for bad actions. This will help submerge the boomerang effect of this law and avoid raising recalcitrant children who in turn become unruly teenagers and grow to become law breaking adults in the society.
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