I read with amused irritation in the December 2009 issue that an anti-smacking law is proposed in France like other EU countries including Britain.
Ban smacking? What nonsense. Not that I agree with causing pain to children in order to curb perceived undesirable behaviour. It is the fut-ility of the law I rail against. A law that is patently unenforceable is a waste of time and only serves the interests of politicians and lawyers.
Paediatrician Edwige Antier’s sentiments are admirable but the proposals are naïve and out of touch with reality. Banning supposed unacceptable behaviour and labelling it as "crime" has never worked and is perversely counter-productive as it actually encourages the behaviour it seeks to eliminate. Those with distressed and anti-authoritarian personalities will always seek the frisson of breaking the law.
The British law that "no marks should be left" is breathtaking in its ingenuousness. Do the men (and it must have been men) who framed this piece of logical impossibility really believe a mother, driven to distraction by her unhappy children fighting, screaming in temper, arguing endlessly over the remote control will quite suddenly calm herself down? Then, coolly judge who the real troublemaker is and, with precise and calculated force, apply a non-marking smack to the appropriate part of the anatomy? Obviously not.
I also take serious issue with UMP secrétaire général Xavier Bertrand’s view that a law against smacking “infringes on how parents behave in private”. The commonest cause of child abuse, molestation and death in the UK is through the attacks of a personality-disordered parent. Does he seriously think they should be free to do as they wish?
Using the asinine pomposity of the law is not the answer.
Ni Claques ni Fessées have got it right in their guide to disciplining children.*
Professor Tanya Byron (no relation) has shown the way, with others, on her BBC TV show The House of Tiny Tearaways and Little Angels.
This, with groups like Home Start, Sure Start and family counsellors, is the road of compassion and wisdom to enable children to grow into self composed citizens.
Dr Alan Byron
Merdrignac, Côtes d'Armor
* Ni Claques ni Fessées proposes a non-violent way of bringing up children – without slaps or smacked backsides.