We have voted no. Regardless of my personal vote, the democratic outcome is that a vast majority of votes cast were of the opinion that smacking as “part of good parental correction” should not be a criminal offence. I’m not going to fiddle with numbers as some others have done to claim an apathetic majority. That’s not how democracy works. If you don’t vote, you don’t get a voice.
So then. A few months ago I made my personal opinion clear. Reading that post again, I still stand by it, with some clarification. After discussions with many people I hold to be wonderful parents with truly incredible kids, I’ve changed part of my opinion. You may not care, but purely for positioning, I accept now that smacking should not be a criminal offence in all cases, and frankly I’m a little ashamed that I’ve said otherwise. I truly do not wish criminal charges against any of the people I know who happen to smack their kids. Hopefully you can accept that one man’s dogma can be altered by exposure to fact.
The law, as it stands, clearly allows for “justifiable force” in several instances. These cover the range that most people would hold to be reasonable: avoiding danger, stopping disruptive behaviour, etc.. What the law does criminalise, and what I remain against, is the use of physical punishment for correction after the fact. I’d love to hear from the majority if they intended their “No” vote to enable physical punishment for correction, as opposed to instantaneous intervention.
If the question had been “Should a smack, as an instant intervention requirement, be a criminal offence”, I would have voted no. Would you have voted “Yes” if the question were “Should a smack, as a premeditated action intended to correct misbehaviour more than x minutes after the event, be a criminal offence?”. Or am I utterly barking up the wrong tree?
I ask this because as I read more and more online discussions about smacking and physical correction, the misinformation is utterly baffling. I’ve seen the argument that all mammals use physical correction, so it’s natural. I don’t however remember seeing a mammal hit its offspring some hours after the original event took place.
Please, this is not judgemental in any way. I’m truly, deeply interested in how to make this work, because it’s obvious that a minority of us don’t understand. You the majority owe me nothing, but I’d love to chat about your intentions so I can learn.
P.S. I remain a bit offended at Larry Baldock cheering like a madman at the result, after he was quoted as saying “I’m not opposed to the wooden spoon or ruler because you can control things with that better than you can with an open hand.” However I do understand he is on the fringe and not representative of many people who voted “No”.