These Countries Banned Parents From Smacking Their Children — the US Isn't One of Them

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Mar. 26 2019, Updated 9:54 a.m. ET

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Source: istock

Wales may become the first country in the United Kingdom to make it illegal for parents to spank their children.

I'm torn on the idea of corporal punishment. Personally, I grew up with the threat of a beating lurking around the corner if I ever acted out, was disrespectful to my teachers, or was doing anything generally crummy or terrible. My mom would reinforce what it meant to be "good" and my father reminded us of what was in store if we weren't.

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I didn't get hit a lot (mostly because I was a good kid) and the times I did get smacked it was usually because I was being super disrespectful. Now that I have kids of my own, I can't find it in myself to hit them, ever. I have had to literally tear my toddler off the floor when he's thrown temper tantrums and hold him close to me after he starts thrashing about — it's not pretty.

When I think back to my childhood and if I ever did that, I can still feel the sting of a belt or a wire hanger on my butt. Not fun.

My wife and I vowed to never hit our kids (we were on the same page well before we had them) and there are tons of studies that prove corporal punishment is pretty much always a horrible idea. Whenever my son is ever in one of his moods, I try to turn the situation around (because toddlers aren't interested in boring "talking") by making the situation fun. Sometimes I pretend to be in a bad mood, too, and start thrashing about — then he starts acting like the adult and tells me to stop. It's a weird game we've created together that keeps us aware of our feelings, and it works.

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Source: getty

I do realize, though, that every child and every person is different and there are different ways to go about making sure your kid grows up to be a responsible, self-sufficient adult who will ultimately lead a fulfilled and happy life. More and more people, however, believe corporal punishment has no place in that process.

Wales just published a bill that would put an end to physical punishment aimed at children for the purposes of "correcting" their behavior.

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Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services Julie Morgan made the announcement. "We are sending a clear message that the physical punishment of children is not acceptable in Wales. What may have been deemed as appropriate in the past is no longer acceptable. Our children must feel safe and be treated with dignity."

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Source: istock
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Wales isn't the only country trying to get spanking banned, Scotland is currently proposing a similar bill.

Many nations have already banned corporal punishment in the home. Albania, Portugal, Greece, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Kenya, Mongolia, Poland, Turkmenistan, Slovenia, Peru, Greenland, and Iceland are among the many countries where the practice is illegal.

In the case of Wales and Scotland, the definitions of corporal punishment varies, but there are distinctions between what constitutes child abuse and what does not. For example, grabbing your kid and stopping them from running out into the street isn't child abuse, nor is sitting them down to brush their hair. Hitting them to "teach them a lesson" for getting bad grades, however, isn't allowed.

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Source: istock

Several agencies and organizations are looking for similar bans in the United States, especially because it is a phenomenon that affects a wide variety of citizens from different socioeconomic backgrounds. There's an assumption that those from poorer households are more likely to engage in corporal punishment. Claudia Cappa, a statistics and monitoring expert from UNICEF, says this isn't the case.

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"In most of the countries with available data, children from wealthier households are equally likely to experience violent discipline as those from poorer households. We tend to think sometimes that only certain categories, particularly socioeconomically deprived households, use violent disciplinary practices, but this is not confirmed by the data on the global level."

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Source: istock

Some believe laws banning corporal punishment of children could be used against parents and their families, pointing to past instances where similar initiatives created newer, widespread problems.

What do you think? Does corporal punishment still have a place in homes across America? Or is it an antediluvian mindset that needs to be done away with across the board?

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