There has been a lot of debate happening on the Internet over the past few weeks due to the ABC1 eight part mini series The Slap, based on the novel of the same name by Melbourne author Christos Tsiolkas.
For those unfamiliar, the story starts at a barbecue in suburban Melbourne where a man slaps a three year old boy that is not his own. What ensues is a court case which divides family and friends. It’s an intriguing book (albeit with a lot more swearing and vulgarity than is really necessary) which poses the question: is it OK to hit someone else’s child if you see them doing the wrong thing?
There is a lot more to the story than that, but I won’t go into specifics. Over at Mamamia, a site I visit frequently, there has been a large discussion about what is the most appropriate way to discipline a child. Some were vehemently against smacking while others gave ‘time out’ as an alternative.
By the end of the debate – everyone was still divided and many were adamant in saying that smacking your child does not make you a bad mother/father/parent. Then there was a chilling post yesterday by Nadine Fawell (you can visit her website here) who spoke of her own experiences of child abuse and how her mother did not believe her. The overwhelming consensus was that not believing your child when they tell you they are being abused (physically or sexually) makes you a bad parent (you can read the post here).
In keeping with the theme of this, I came across a disturbing article on Yahoo this morning. This, in part, is what it read:
Police in France have charged a 33-year-old father with murder after he allegedly killed his three-year-old son by stuffing him into a washing machine and turning it on.
The man, identified in reports as Christophe Champenois, was charged with “murder of a minor” late on Sunday in Meaux near Paris, court officials said.
The boy’s mother was charged with failing to prevent a crime and failing to assist a person in danger.
Neighbours said the boy, Bastien, died on Friday after his father put him naked in the washing machine to punish him for getting into trouble at nursery school.
You can read the full story here.
If you ask me, that right there is bad parenting. I don’t care what Bastien did at nursery school, nothing he ever could have done would justify what his father did to him. I think in this instance, a smack would have sufficed, maybe even sending the kid to his room for a little while “to think about what he did”.
For me, it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not they smack their children or what they do for punishment, however, I think most of us would agree that putting your child in a washing machine and turning it on is not only insane, but child abuse.
Where do you stand on disciplining your child?