Smack My Kids Up


I was most tickled by one particular item on today’s news. It appears that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children are in talks with retail-sector bigwigs in a drive to prevent smacking in shops.

If you’re lucky enough to live in Scotland, this is all a bit of a moot point. In England, it appears that smacking your progeny in public is liable to draw the odd raised eyebrow (more of this in a minute). Do it in Scotland, and you’re liable to end up in the clink. At least, this is how I understand it. I’ve not had the opportunity (well, the desire) to review the relevant legislation.

Another preface, I think: I’m not sure what I make about smacking children. On the one hand, there’s the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ mentality. On the other is the idea that children respond better to positive reinforcement, and that exerting violence on them is sending all the wrong messages about how we should solve interpersonal problems. I think I lean slightly toward the latter view. This is fortuitous, since it seems to be the only tolerable angle to take when you’re north of the border.

Back to England, where the smacking continues unabated. The NSPCC have commissioned a survey into public attitudes towards smacking, and have revealed that 86% of people would be happy to shop in ‘smack-free’ premises. 40% of respondents indicated that they would actively choose ‘smack-free’ shops over their ‘smack-friendly’ competitors.

Another variable to throw into the insatiable engine of consumer choice. I wonder whether this mysterious 40% would actually boycott ‘smack-friendly’ premises in any active way? ‘Excuse me, but before I make this purchase, I was wondering about your corporate position on smacking’.

And it isn’t just the ‘smack-free’ shop idea that seems to be catching on. The NSPCC survey reveals other ways in which shops might help beleagured parents. Apparently, when it all kicks off, shops can ‘display leaflets on how to deal with tantrums and difficult behaviour’. That should help.

Incidently, let’s not forget the 14% who (presumably) would be unhappy to shop in a ‘smack-free’ outlet. Perhaps they fear that children will wise up to the ‘smack-free’ idea. They will wait until they are taken into a ‘smack-free’ shop, upon which they will give full expression to their deviant ways, safe in the knowledge that the final weapon in the parental arsenal has been temporarily disarmed. Genius.

The item on today’s news introduced the possibility of ‘smacking’ and ‘non-smacking’ zones in shops. An excellent middle ground, that. Shoppers would know where they could roam without fear of being confronted with unsavoury scenes of corporal discipline, and it would mean that parents would know where to go when a swift backhand was deemed necessary.

Or perhaps the smackers, like the smokers, should be made to stand outside in the rain.

Explore posts in the same categories: Culture, News, Politics

4 Comments on “Smack My Kids Up”

  1. Hannah Green Says:

    Never did the phrase ‘nanny culture’ seem more apt. Can anyone tell me how you define a ‘smack’? Is there a certain level of force that has to be reached? Or does it require premeditation? Does it only count if it’s directed at the posterier, or can a smack be directed at any part of the body? And who, pray tell, is going to enforce such nonsense legislation? No doubt parents who smack their children in public will face longer prison sentences than drug dealers. Although obviously they’ll be suspended sentences, since we haven’t the room to actually send anyone to prison any more.

  2. Doug Says:

    Good questions. It breaks down like this. And remember that we’re only talking about England and Wales here.

    Basically, you aren’t allowed to smack in such a way as to leave a mark. ‘Mild smacking’ is allowed under the ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence against common assault. Obviously, it’s a bit hit and miss, as parents might choose to direct themselves to less visible areas, according to the NSPCC, who also suggest that hitting a child, even mildly, is no more morally defensible than hitting an adult.

    I mean, you’d never see the police hitting criminals, would you?


  3. Ross Says:

    I think if smacking is banned in public places then it’ll just go underground and supermarket car parks at night will be filled by red-faced parents frantically skelping their progeny round the head, egged on by the cat-calls of a watching crowd of leering peers.

    I was once in a shop and saw a little boy excitedly showing his Mummy something he had in his hand. “Put it in your f***ing pocket”, she cheerfully replied, eyes narrowed. The little boy began to blub and I felt sad. Didn’t stop me from shopping though…

  4. Doug Says:

    Smack Club? I like it.

    Your anecdotal example makes me feel sad too. Perhaps shops should outlaw verbal as well as physical reprimands. In fact, maybe they should supply lockers in which to deposit your children as you shop. I picture them like the ones you get in the changing rooms at swimming pools.

    Naturally, one in four would need to be larger to accommodate the obese.

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