Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Liberal values?

Oh for the good old days when you knew what the Liberal Democrats believed.

Way back in 2003, Liberal Democrat spokesman for children, Paul Burstow spoke in a party conference debate on banning the smacking of children. 

"It is a terrible indictment of our society that, though smaller and more vulnerable, children still have less protection under the law...We are not pleading a special case for children, just equality and the freedom to grow up without violence... What changing the law does, as we have seen in Sweden, is it provides the backbone to the educational campaigns by sending out the message as a society that it is not OK to hit a child." 
 Speaking in support of the motion, Baroness Walmsley added,
"Learning from Europe, we should scrap this archaic law to discourage hitting children and help us promote positive and more effective forms of discipline.The law educates and sets standards in all spheres of society, including how we behave in the home."

In less than a decade, we now have John Hemming MP - a man increasingly indistinguishable from the Tories - calling for parents to be allowed to hit their children, against the policy of his own party. Perhaps even more shocking is that the Daily Express described him as a senior Liberal Democrat, when he is clearly a loose cannon on the gun deck and irresponsible at best.

The inquiry into the riots must look at the way in which the state undermines parental discipline. Smacking children rarely does any long-term harm.
Well, that's not what assorted charities believe and not what the research shows. It doesn't work and it raises children to believe that violence is the right response. Let's ask Miriam Stoppard:
Scientists from Canadian and American universities have found that smacking kids, instead of using ­non-physical punishment, such as time outs, actually defeats the purpose. It leads to poorer discipline among the kids who are smacked. They may comply with rules in the short term to avoid being smacked but in the long term they fail to understand the reasons behind corporal punishment. The researchers have also found that it reduces a child’s emotional intelligence.
The NSPCC are also quite clear on it - it is never a good idea - and I would tend to believe them rather than Mr Hemming's peculiar views.
Parents may believe there are occasions when only a smack will do. For example, your child is really cheeky and disobedient; your toddler runs into the road; one of your children bites a playmate. It can be tempting to think a smack sorts out these incidents quickly, but it does nothing to teach your child how you want him to behave.
Instead, it:
  • gives a bad example of how to handle strong emotions
  • may lead children to hit or bully others
  • may encourage children to lie, or hide feelings, to avoid smacking
  • it can make defiant behaviour worse, so discipline gets even harder
  • leads to a resentful and angry child, damaging family relationships if it goes on for a long time.

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