Anthony Vercoe

Screenwriter/Writer/Actor

61 (0)404 948294

One for the pro smackers

To The Pro Smackers

Striking a little kid? Seriously?

My daughter came home from Pre School one day in a very melancholy mood. It took a long while, we’re talking a night and a day here, but eventually she told her Mum that she was sad because a boy had told her it’s ok for adults to hit kids if they were naughty. Her trust in our relationship had been compromised. We sat her down and promised that she would never, under any circumstances, ever be hit by us. And she never has.

It disturbs me greatly to think, that in this modern day, with access to infinite information, parents simply accept striking a little kid as the best way to teach them right from wrong. Think about this: Striking a little kid!

How do you teach them that striking people is wrong? “By striking them”, can you hear the absurdity? And don’t tell me a little tap is different to a big smack – too subjective and the object of the exercise is still to hurt your child.

I’ve recently taken an interest in the Facebook Page ‘Ban the Physical Punishment of Children in Australia’. There’s been a considerable amount of hubbub about a proposed law to ban parents smacking kids in Australia. I’m pretty surprised at the opposition but more so at the arguments. I wanted to believe that it was the opinion of the knuckle dragging, mouth-breathing minority. Alas, this is not the case. It seems to be the consensus of most Australian parents.

“My parents smacked me and it never did me any harm.”

How do you know? You might be psychologically broken and don’t even know it. It happens, you know. When I was a lad, I got a hiding for damaging a piece of furniture (extenuating circumstances, I might add). I recall the ‘crime’ clearly but have absolutely no memory of the punishment. I only reason I know about it is because it’s been brought up at parties. Where is the memory? What did I do with it? It’s not like I lost it under the couch. Can anyone say ‘repressed’?

Your folks likely hit you because they didn’t know any better. Let’s be clear here – I do not blame my parents for a single action. They did the best they could with what was at their disposal, and a fine job if I do say so myself. But crikey! Just look at what we have access to now. The Internet is for more than memes of grumpy cats, you know! There has been a heck of a lot of research gone into this subject (I won’t list the resources here, they’re easy enough to find), and the evidence for is considerable.  

Oh, and also, you think it’s ok to hit little kids! Surely that raises an alarm bell or two.

“This is a law that can’t be policed.”

Oh, this is a dilly! Are you saying that you wouldn’t obey laws if there were no consequences? Really? Would you steal, assault, kill, rape if there were no chance of incarceration? Hmm … I suppose you are teaching your kids that going against your wishes will result in an assault on their person, so …

I know I’m some sort of wacko, but I’ve been trying to teach my daughter to do the right thing because … well … because it’s the right thing to do, not because she will be physically harmed otherwise. I will never give her reason to fear me, not ever.

“It’s impossible to reason with a toddler.”

Wrong! Difficult, sure. Impossible, of course not. It’s one of your jobs as a parent to teach your child reason. You can reason with a dog, and most kids are brighter than dogs, right?

Wait. You hit dogs too, don’t you?

Sigh.

So, you pro smackers, I’m simply asking you to dare to question convention. It hasn’t been easy for us – parenting isn’t. We’ve done a hell of a lot of reading and a fair amount of trial and error, but we’ve reached a place where we don’t even need a naughty corner much less corporal punishment. My little one is a good kid. Sure, she gets frustrated, angry and, on the extremely rare occasion, downright defiant. Goodness knows we have our altercations, but in the overwhelming majority of cases, we are able to talk things through and reach a happy compromise.

Isn’t that what reasonable people do? 

Photo by Erik Johansson