Little to say for myself

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Smacking Addendum

Thinking about this again last night, it's even less comfortable than I thought. I said that hitting children had nothing to do with the welfare or coaching of the children themselves - it was just an expression of frustration (i.e. anger) on the part of the parent at not getting their way.

When I was telling my partner about what I'd written, and looked at it more closely, I realised something. There was certainly anger there when I hit my child, but that could just as easily have been vented by smacking the wall, or banging on a table. What I chose to do in that moment of anger was to hit my child.

So what was the pay-off? What would I get out of hitting a child that I wouldn't get from banging the table? What would cause me to direct my anger towards a virtually defenceless person? The answer, sadly, is GRATIFICATION. It gratified me to inflict that pain so that my feelings of anger were somehow matched (no, let's face it - exceeded) by the child's mix of pain, outrage and fear.

That episode would have been seen as very minor (not even reaching the new criteria of visible marks) and I have forgiven myself for it. However, I've now distinguished what was going on for me in that moment: it was a deliberate attempt to harm the child, not help him, for my own short-term gratification.

How can we, in all conscience, legislate for that to be acceptable?

posted by Plig | 11:10 |

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