Banning smacking may be only symbolic, but symbols matter
Adults have the law to protect them, but you can still hit children. It doesn't make sense, says Eilis O'Hanlon
Published 04/07/2010 | 05:00
The wonder is that slapping your children wasn't banned in Ireland years ago. We're generally a pushover for European ways and European laws, and corporal punishment is already illegal in Germany, Austria, Denmark, Holland, Spain, Luxembourg, Sweden -- all the nice liberal, social democratic countries which we love to emulate, as opposed to those right-wing hellholes such as the United States and Britain where it's still legal.
The issue returned briefly to public consciousness last week with the publication of a study commissioned by the Children's Minister, Barry Andrews. It found that one in four parents admitted physically disciplining their offspring in the previous year -- a much lower rate than among the fist-friendly Scots, who apparently like nothing better than to knock their kids about whenever they get the chance (or maybe Glaswegians are just more honest) -- but that only 42 per cent were in favour of an outright ban.
The remainder were split between those who think it does children the power of good to feel the back of mum and dad's hand every now and again, and fencesitters who said it depended on the age of the child. Because apparently it's worse to hit children under five and over 10 than the poor buggers stuck in the middle. Go figure.