Your Say: Is smacking children still acceptable?

Your Say: Is smacking children still acceptable?

Domestic violence is such a topical issue at the moment. It is heartbreaking to read what is happening in our society. When things get tough, Christians usually turn to the Bible and their fellow church members for support. Yet, the Bible is this where we find a most controversial issue. Proverbs 13:24 says: ‘He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.’ And also ‘Do not withhold discipline from a child: if you beat him with a rod, he will not die’ 23:13 and ‘Folly is bound up in the heart of a boy, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him’ 22:15.

These scriptures are usually raised when people of faith physically discipline their children. Many parents who ascribe to this paternalistic attitude towards discipline argue that this is a directive that parents of the Christian faith should follow. These scriptures are referred to as the ‘rod’ texts. This reference implies that God is a God who is prone to tit-for-tat retaliation. Reading the Bible in context is how we learn to apply what was said then, to our circumstances now. 

Around the world, 58 countries have now, in some way or another, moved to prohibit the physical punishment of children. Australia is not one of those countries. In all states and territories, it is still lawful to smack, spank or hit a child. Yet, if you do the same to an adult, you will most likely be charged with assault. Equality before the law and in society should not exclude our precious children. Violence begets violence. Isn’t it time that we as Christians start advocating for non-violent disciplinary methods?

Should we not teach our children that hitting is wrong, even if they misbehave? 

Laetitia-Ann Greeff
Doctoral Student in Law

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