Smacking Not the Answer, Say Kids; United Kingdom's Record on Punishment under Scrutiny

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), June 19, 2001 | Go to article overview

Smacking Not the Answer, Say Kids; United Kingdom's Record on Punishment under Scrutiny


BY European standards the United Kingdom lags behind on the issue of children's rights, particularly regarding the use of physical punishment. The Government, at the behest of the European Court of Justice, has been asked to clarify what is meant in legal terms by reasonable chastisement.

Later this year, young people and adults will be publicly consulted on the issue of smacking. Andrew Bailie ,13, Sheena Hall, 14, Amanda McAteer, 13, Paul McAteer, 14, and Lucas Dillon, 10, of Children's Express sample some young people's views. Children's Express is a programme of learning through journalism for young people aged eight to 18.

WAIT till I get you home then I will give you something to cry about, screams an angry parent at her red-faced five-year-old son, who bawls as he is dragged through the supermarket aisles nursing a throbbing clipped ear.

Was it right of the adult to lash out at the child? Did the child deserve what he got? Should all forms of physical punishment be banned?

"I don't think it is good to hit your child, especially in public. Just think of the embarrassment and pain your child is going through when you hurt them in front of everyone," said Paul McAteer, 13. Memories of being hit by a parent can stand out more than any other single event for many teenagers like Paul.

"I was kicking a ball in the entry against the wall at my granny's. I was told not to and stopped for about two seconds, then I came back and started again. One of my relatives called me in and hit me. That happened a long time ago but I still feel an emotional scar," he said.

Children are Unbeatable, an alliance of children's organisations, is spearheading a campaign in Northern Ireland to prevent the use of physical punishment.

"Parents should find other means of discipline instead of smacking, which is basically hurting your own child and it is sort of barbaric when you think about," said Hugo McIlveen, 15. …

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