Hey – here are some kids who don’t mind a smack

We don’t have any of those places in Eketahuna where a bloke can go to be whipped by a lass clad in black leather. But if you happen to run such an establishment in your neck of the woods, there’s good news in the NZ Herald today.

Our namby-pamby approach to discipline does not mean we are raising a generation of kids who don’t appreciate a good smacking.

Nineteen years after physical punishment was banned in schools, the NZ Herald has surveyed a bunch of kids and found that while most want the ban (no surprise), “there is still some support for smacking as a form of discipline.”

An intermediate school was chosen for the survey because the students, all but one aged 11, are old enough to have opinions but young enough for discipline to be fresh in their memories.

Ten out of 17 Year 7 pupils at Rangeview Intermediate in Te Atatu said they would vote no in the referendum which says: “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”

Six would vote yes, a higher proportion than the mere 11 per cent of parents voting yes in a Herald/DigiPoll survey last weekend, but still a minority. One student was unsure.

The sample is tiny and makes no pretence to be representative beyond the fact that Rangeview is ranked decile 5, in the middle of the parental income scale.

But here’s the thing: Alf would have thought the kids would no more say they appreciated the punishing qualities of a smack than they would say they benefit from being sent to their rooms in disgrace, or being barred from watching tellie, or whatever.

Yet 14 of the 17 children still report having been smacked and, despite the official doctrine of non-violence at school, most believe their parents were right to smack them.

All interviews were conducted one-on-one, with a teacher aide present and an assurance that whatever they said would be reported anonymously. All names have been changed.

Alison said smacking should be allowed “only to tell them off like a light tap on the hand or arm”, so that children are taught not to do it again. “It did for me.”

Mike said smacking was effective depending on “whether they whacked me hard or not. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t work. If it was really powerful I did obey.”

He said being deprived of television or the computer for a day or two “doesn’t make you care, really, it’s like not really going to stop you doing it again”.

Sam agreed. “If they say, ‘go to your room’ you can just say no. But if they just give you a little smack you know not to do that and it’s just a boundary.”

Jason, who was smacked recently for fighting with his little sister, said: “Sometimes when they send me to my room I don’t really learn not to do it, but me and my sister don’t play-fight any more – I know the consequences.”

Richard says smacking should be allowed “because if they did something naughty they have to say, ‘don’t do that again’. They might do something again because if they just growl at them it doesn’t do that much.”

Instructive. Dunno that the kids have been consulted as well as they should have been on this issue.

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