Ok, so today we’re going to have a chat about the wooden spoon debate. Gosh I sound like a talk show host.
Anyway, this is a serious subject and one that I have often thought about quietly, but only decided to write about last night after I received an email from a friend of mine. She works with abused children on a daily basis, so for her this subject is both very serious and very close to home.
A bit of background for you, from ninemsn.com.au:
Wooden spoon mum sparks smacking debate
A Victorian woman has been questioned by police and threatened to be charged with assault after hitting her 9-year-old daughter with a wooden spoon. Claire Davidson was warned by police that she risked an assault-with-a-weapon charge after her child revealed in a classroom discussion that her mother hit her with the spoon.
Ms Davidson said she was shocked when a support worker from Yea Public School reported the smacking to police. “We only use the wooden spoon and that is only when she is being naughty and we give her fair chance to rectify the situation and we talk her through it,” she told the Herald Sun.
She said her daughters gets three warnings and, then, “it is spoon time.” Ms Davidson of Flowerdale, north of Melbourne, was told by police she would be charged with assault if another instance of her daughter being hit with the spoon was reported again.
The incident has sparked a debate about smacking between parents and child-welfare advocates. A criminal lawyer said that whether parents are charged with assaulting their children or not depends on how severe the smacking is.
“Just because you are mother or daughter doesn’t make you exempt from the law,” criminal lawyer James Dowsley said.
My first initial opinion on this topic was, my brother and I were smacked with the wooden spoon and we turned out all right. That of course is a very simplistic and hopeful view that all people hit with an object as a child will turn out ok.
On Sunrise this morning Dr Michael Carr-Greg spoke of a study that showed many children that were smacked with a wooden spoon or another object went on to become violent adults, using violence to solve problems. Now, my question here is, what other factors contributed to these children becoming violent adults. What was their family unit as a whole like? Were they smacked lightly on the bottom with the wooden spoon as we were as naughty kids, or did their parents take it one step too far and fall into the abuse category.
Of course there are too many questions that need answers before we can say yes this study shows we shouldn’t smack our children with wooden spoons. Having said that though, I do not plan on smacking my children with objects. No, I’m not a mum yet, but going off the fact that it would break my heart when we talked about smacking our puppy with a rolled up newspaper, I don’t think I could handle smacking a child with a cooking instrument.
In the case, however of this Victorian mother, was she abusing her child? From the news story above, my answer would be ‘no’. But I don’t know the in’s and out’s of their family. Should smacking in general, whether it’s with an object or not be illegal? I’m going to sit on the fence on that one, because I honestly can’t answer that 100% either way, but the majority of me says, yes it should be illegal. If I worked with abused children on a daily basis, then I know that I would definitely say 100% yes.
Interestingly the current poll on ninemsn does not support this view:
Do you support smacking with a wooden spoon? Yes: 104,675 | No: 33,233.
Dr Michael Carr-Greg spoke of alternative forms of punishment on Sunrise this morning, such as time-out, taking away things that are of value to the child, such as computer time, games etc and grounded them. But all are to happen in short, sharp bursts. And if the child doesn’t learn, extend the time out, longer time without the computer. All sounds good in theory doesn’t it. But I’m sure there are countless parents, good parents, who have lost their cool and smacked their child.
The other side of the debate is, well are we as a society these days just too uptight about things like this, when like I said before, there are many many Gen X and Gen Y kids that were smacked as kids, and most of us are all right.
I think if you asked my friend if society is too uptight, she’d probably say no. If we were too uptight and too strict on this sort of stuff then why are there so many abused children.
A bit of a heavy puff today, but would love to hear your thoughts, and for the mum’s out there would love to hear your experiences with dealing with your children, and your views on smacking.