It’s Okay for Adults to Hit Kids, says Tony Abbott
- Tony Abbott rules out ban on hitting children
- Research shows that physical punishment in childhood leads to behavioural problems later in life
- Physical punishment of children is banned in 33 other countries
A ban on parents smacking their children risks turning Australia into a nanny state, says Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who admits he hit his own kids.
A UN Committee on the Rights of the Child report has asked Australia to abolish the right of parents to use reasonable force to discipline children.
The committee would also like teachers and childcare workers to report cases of parents’ physical abuse against their children
However Tony Abbott is against the idea.
“I was probably one of those guilty parents who did occasionally chastise the children, a very gentle smack I’ve got to say,” Mr Abbott told the Gutter Trash earlier today.
“I think that we’ve got to treat our kids well, but I don’t think we ought to say there’s no place ever for smacks.
“THE BEST THING WE CAN GIVE IS A SMACK”
“All parents know that occasionally the best thing we can give is a smack, but it should never be something that hurts them.”
Mr Abbott said it was “always a danger” that these types of bans moved Australia towards a nanny state.
“I think we often see political correctness taken to extremes and maybe this is another example,” he said.
During 2011-12, there were 252,962 notifications of suspected child abuse and neglect In Australia (a rate of 34.0 notifications per 1,000 Australian children), which is an increase of 6.6% from the 237,273 reports made in 2010-2011.
Research shows that a child who experiences physical punishment is more likely to develop increased aggressive behaviour and mental health problems as a child and as an adult.
Children do need discipline to learn appropriate and socially-acceptable behaviour as they grow and develop. But it’s increasingly clear that physical punishment is not an effective long-term strategy, because it doesn’t work.
In the 33 countries where the physical punishment of children is illegal, there’s evidence that both the legal change and the accompanying public dialogue change community attitudes to physical punishment of children.
In 1979, Sweden became the first country to explicitly ban all forms of corporal punishment of children.
The proportion of Swedes who considered physical punishment (even in its mildest form) necessary for child discipline halved between 1965 and 1981, and halved again by 1994.
A similar pattern is apparent elsewhere. A survey conducted in 2012 found 63% of New Zealand parents had never, or only rarely, smacked their child since the law there changed in 2007.
Countries that have banned the physical punishment of children have also seen other benefits including increased early identification of children at risk of abuse, and very low rates of mortality associated with child abuse.
While Australian community attitudes to physical punishment for children remain divided, support for smacking children seems to be on the decline.
In 2002, 75% of surveyed Australian adults agreed with the statement that it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child. This had decreased to 69% in 2006.