Bruce Logan of Maxim institute writest in the Herald about smacking in France. Apparently, they don’t think it’s evil. Come to think of it, we don’t in this country either.
Nevertheless, it was surprising to discover from a visiting Paris journalist that a significant majority of French adolescents valued obedience to parents above independence in a recent European survey. I have also discovered that 70 per cent of French children think that la fessee (French for a smack on the bottom) is fine.
And smacking young children in France doesn’t seem to be a generational thing either. Ten years ago 85 per cent of parents thought smacking normal but a more recent survey put the figure at 87 per cent.
For European anti-smackers all this is something of an enigma. France, the country that gave us the Enlightenment, they argue, is being regressive. It is quite simply old-fashioned.
But the facts do not bear this out; children, one could reasonably argue, are treated better in France than any other European nation. France at 2.1 has the highest fertility rate of all the West European countries; only Sweden equals that.
The French are not old-fashioned at all but they are suspicious of the government when it tells parents how to treat their children. And it is this fear of unwarranted intrusion that I suspect is driving Bob McCoskrie and Family First. He would get considerable support in France.
The use of smacking as a disciplinary tool for young children is not old-fashioned at all. It is not an exercise in violence or an indicator of a lack of love. Indeed I suspect most French parents would claim the opposite.
To smack or not to smack is not the kind of non-issue that the Herald editorial seems to be claiming. Loving children and caring for them demands discipline and the smacking of young children must be something that parents are able to do without government manipulated guilt.
The loving and disciplining of children lies at the heart of a culture and reflects a complexity of issues. It is far too complex an issue to be monitored by a poorly designed law.