PRACTICAL: Dr Rachael Sharman of the University of the Sunshine Coast psychology department.
PRACTICAL: Dr Rachael Sharman of the University of the Sunshine Coast psychology department. Darryn Smith

‘Smack ban’ labelled as unworkable

A SUNSHINE Coast psychologist has taken the wooden spoon to a proposal to outlaw smacking.

The Royal Australian College of Physicians yesterday created controversy when it called for the legal defences for smacking to be quashed.

It said the physical punishment had adverse social and psychological affects and was not effective in curbing wayward children.

However University of the Sunshine Coast psychologist and child welfare expert Dr Rachael Sharman called the proposal unworkable. She said while some parents took physical forms of discipline too far, it was also possible to overstep the mark with other forms of negative reinforcement, such as banishing a child to time out.

She said it would be over-reaction to ban smacking because of a small minority who took it too far.

Dr Sharman is a former frontline child protection worker and said the sector was already stretched to the limit and would be overwhelmed if smacking laws were tightened.

"A vast majority of parents love their children and would not hurt them," she said.

"But unfortunately some would. But they are in the minority. It does not mean we should outlaw smacking.

"It would also be unenforceable. How would you police it? Would you call in child protection every time someone smacks their child on the wrist when they reach for the lollies at the supermarket?"

The RACP said smacking was ineffective in stopping naughty behaviour and children simply learned not to do it in parents' presence.

However Dr Sharman said that was disputed among academics and there was evidence to suggest smacking could be effective when used sensibly.

Queensland co-ordinator of parenting support group Tough Love, Meredith Jordan, said while her organisation encouraged non-physical forms of discipline, she said the RACP's proposal was unfeasible.

"Most parents don't smack to do damage, they do it just to get a message across," she said.

"I think that quite often parents use smacking because they do no not know any other technique."

Should smacking children be banned?

This poll ended on 27 July 2014.

Current Results

Yes, it's just lazy parenting

8%

Yes, it doesn't work so why abuse the child?

9%

No, I'm the parent and how I punish my child is my business

45%

No, children need a good whack to know what's right and wrong

36%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.


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