In the news: to smack or not to smack?

To smack or not to smack your child? 

 This has been the question in our local newspapers, radio and TV in recent days.

Dr Gervase Chaney said it was no longer OK for parents to argue "it never did us any harm" - and called on colleagues to stand up for children's rights.  It comes as a leading Royal Children's Hospital paediatrician says Australia is lagging behind other countries in outlawing smacking, describing some cases as tantamount to child abuse.  Dr Chaney is pushing for The Royal Australasian College of Physicians paediatric and child health division to officially support a ban as the body reviews its policy on smacking. He said it was likely to be supported and the college would then call on government to change the law. Dr Chaney, the division president, said he believed the current position - opposing the use of physical discipline as an "ineffective and unhelpful" - did not go far enough. (source link)

Following this and other news stories on the topic, newspapers ran online polls such as the Herald Sun, which reported that of over 8000 respondents, 90% said "parents must keep the right to discipline their children with a smack."  Many parents provided comments - mostly along the line that it was the rights of parents to discipline their children when necessary and not one for governments or others to interfere in.

Interestingly at the same time this was in the news, Lori Alexander in her blog (link) ran a story on flicking the cheek of a baby as discipline and received 106 comments for and against - some comments were very heated - this appears to be a very hot topic among parents. What is your view on the topic of smacking?

I was smacked as a child (the wooden spoon and feather duster were used more than once) and I have smacked my children when they were younger (much younger!). However, it is not something many parents want to publicly confess to, as they fear being "reported to the authorities" or seen as "abusive" parents.  The Bible clearly tells us as parents to discipline our children - "He that spareth his rod hateth his son" (Proverbs 13:24) - which to me reads that smacking a child is part of that discipline. I also used other methods, such as time out and "the chat", they worked on occassions, however a quick smack often did the trick.

There are always cases of parents crossing the line - but 99% of parents do not abuse their children by giving them the occassional smack for bad behaviour and nor do I think the occassional smack has any long term effects on children.  If this was the case, we would all have issues as we are a generation that was smacked as children! What I did learn was  . . . if I was naughty there was a consquence which wasn't very nice!

Chasten your son while there is hope, And do not set your heart on his destruction. 
(Prov 19:18 NKJV)

Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul. 
(Proverbs 29:17 NKJV)


  1. The word of God is alive today just as much as when Solomon wrote those wise words. Gods laws are effective the worlds laws are ineffective, we only have to look at today's youth and children to work that one out. Disciplining correctly in the key, thank God my Mother smacked me!

  2. We smacked when necessary. Now as I watch my children raise their children it is much more difficult. They feel very much that people watch them and are quick to criticise. They try to use other methods. Personally, I agree that a swift smack at the crucial moment is more effective in some cases.

  3. Following the birth of Sarah we received from the Federal Government a DVD and information about a related website produced by a parenting advice organisation, which informed us that physical discipline is NEVER effective and ALWAYS harmful.

    We can only be thankful that most parents of newborns are probably too busy to find the time to read these terrible lies!

    "Studies" are done by people who believe that spanking is, by definition, child abuse. They therefore include all sorts of physical abuse in their "studies" of "spanking", and therefore "find" that spanking is harmful and doesn't work etc.

    This article briefly refutes 5 myths constantly raised by the anti-spanking camp:


  4. Thanks Stephen for the link. It’s all about balance and being sensible. Yes the word “studies” can be so misleading, often they find one study done by someone with a vested interested in the anti-spanking camp and produce bias results.

    With all this anti-smacking policy —what about those parents who swear terrible things at their children, I often hear this when I am at the shopping centre - to me this has long term damage to any child but no one is jumping up and down to stop it.

  5. Jo, what you mention about parents verbally abusing their kids etc. illustrates the verse you quoted - he that spares his rod HATES his son - i.e. withholding physical discipline is actually a form of child abuse. And "alternative methods" can be quite inappropriate and even harmful.

    A really excellent book on physical discipline joined with verbal refroof for Christian parents is "Withhold Not Correction" by Bruce Ray, ISBN 9780875524009. It was written 33 years ago by a pastor and father of five, and is still in print unchanged, because it faithfully and carefully expounds and applies Biblical teaching. Chapters include "Knowing our Children", "the Biblical motives for correction", "God's authority in Discipline", "Love and the Rod", "Correction within Reason", "Consistency", and many more. Unlike other many other Christian books on this topic, Ray sets a high Biblical standard and framework for discipline without adding human opinions and rules or lengthy procedures to make parenting unnecessarily complicated and daunting.

    We have it in stock here (BBTD) and it is also available from Amazon or Book Depository, or through Koorong.


  6. I agree that there are many forms of abusing your children - among which are *lack* of discipline, verbal abuse, emotional abuse. Even buying your children too many things rather than loving them is a form of abuse in my opinion! But smacking your children (moderately, within reason and in a safe way) is definitely not abuse, and helps a child learn to make wise choices in a much more effective way than other methods (in my opinion). Smacking is the method of correction condoned by God, and I'm certainly not against it.
    Unfortunately, do-gooders are systematically destroying everything for moderate people/parents - and as a result, society is shooting itself in the foot. One day it will be lame, and then everyone will wonder what went wrong.

  7. It's a "hot" topic.
    We smacked our young boys only when really necessary, and certainly not repeatedly.
    They have not said we damaged them by doing so.
    In fact they are grateful and understand our motives.
    At 25 and 30, they are not siding with the mob who say their generation was harmed by such parental discipline.
    As for the foul language used by modern parents towards their children...THAT is definately child abuse in every sense of the word!!
    It's a horrible thing to witness..even worse when it is coupled with a vidictive whack that is not for correction, but only a release of violent emotion!
    It will be interesting to see how this pans out.
    I do believe that since teachers have been so restricted in disciplining unruly behaviour at school, we have seen an increase of problems there.
    Not that I think teachers should hurt students!
    But I know some are afraid to tell a child what to do these days, in case of ramifications!

  8. I remember a few years ago, my daughter and I went clothes shopping. Her 3 year old son ran amok in Target, knocking clothes off racks and running into people. We tried to restrain him, but he just continued wreaking havoc. People were giving us disgusted looks. Finally, in desperation, my daughter gave her son a quick and controlled smack over his bottom which brought him immediately into line. Alas, she was confronted with angry looks and tut tuts from fellow shoppers for smacking him! Almost in tears, she remarked loudly enough for them to hear that she was damned if she did, and damned if she didn't smack him to bring him into line. Sometimes a smack over the 'seat of learning' works really well... but it is now a sad thing to be afraid to do it for fear of being reported to authorities. I feel sorry for young mums today...

  9. Glenys Hicks - I also feel sorry for young mums and I am glad I am not a young mum anymore. I thought it was hard 24 years ago, but its much harder now.

    I was always very careful where I smacked my son as I didn't like the comments from others and the judgement they were making (I have a son with ADHD so very energetic). Even though they probably smacked their children at home!

  10. Thanks Stephen for the title of the book – fortunately I am now passed all that so for me it isn’t a issue but to others it might be useful.

  11. Quite an issue - all over the world. In fact, the UN is trying to take parental rights away from all parents world wide. The Bible says "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left [to himself] bringeth his mother to shame." A child cannot decide what is best for himself. And only the parent should decide for his or her child.

    I believe this is just another of many ways the world demonstrates its LACK of the fear of God. There is no knowledge of Him and no fear of Him. God is the one who placed each child with each parent for the purpose of making each Holy. (the parent and the child) The parent learns more about God the Father through parenting and the child learns about God the Father through his parents.

    "...but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Heb 12

    Parents nowadays have to decide if they will fear God or man.


Post a Comment