I found it interesting to read that there is a loophole in the law, which permits the smacking of children in schools that are classified as ‘less that part-time’, that is less than 12.5 hours a week. Given that smacking is banned in all other forms of education, it will probably not be long before this loophole in the law in corrected. But it did get me thinking about the way in which discipline has changed in education over the years. Parents or those with parental responsibility are (by law) permitted to give a ‘mild smack’ to their child. I’m sure at some point in the future this will also be changed, but I was wondering, how important was or is smacking now in terms of discipline?
Theologically, I believe that there are references in the bible to smacking children, as a form of discipline. Sadly, as with many things in our society, sin has distorted this, with many people using it as a justification for outright abuse and assault on children. Personally, smacking would be a part of the way I would discipline my child, but not the main way or the primary way, and certainly not in an abusive or sinful way. We will all have different opinions on this, and as I have said many times before, we will all have different ways of raising our children, so I would never seek to push my opinion as the truth, it is merely my way of doing things, and I respect your way if it is different.
However, in light of this new loophole in the law, I cant help but wonder whether schools benefited from the right teachers had to smack children? So often we read stories in the media of the rebellion taking place in classrooms all over the UK, with verbal and physical assault on teachers happening daily. I found it hilarious but also a little disturbing that when my husband was inquiring about Income Protection Insurance, he was in one of the top two professions which are most likely to be out of work for a long period of time because of a stress-related illness! Therefore making insurance quite expensive. (For those who don’t know, my husband is a teacher). As time has moved on, discipline in schools would appear to have become more relaxed, with physical punishment being banned.
Is there a connection between standards slipping and forms of discipline changing? I believe there is a strong connection, but I must also point out that I in no way would ever want anyone else to physically punish my child, as I think that IF this is ever necessary, it is our decision, as parents. Could it be, that it is not the taking away of smacking in schools that has resulted in the discipline slide, but what smacking represents? The authority of a teacher over children is very important when keeping order and structure within a school, and the pupils need to respect this authority. Maybe for many years this respect was earned through fear of physical punishment and now there is nothing to encourage children to respect figures of authority.
From a Christian perspective, respect for figures of authority is taught throughout the bible. One of the 10 commandments is devoted to importance of Honouring our father and mother, with many biblical teachers suggesting that this commandment is also a parallel to other structures of hierarchy in our society, such as the justice system. If we were all living our lives according to the way the bible teaches us, then respect for teachers would be normal in schools, because it is a commandment of God to respect those who are in authority over us, not out of fear, but out of love.
I believe that it is the selfish, self-important nature of modern day living that has resulted in a corruption of scriptural hierarchical structures, which in turn has meant that we are not showing children how they should behave toward parents and teachers. If we teach children that the bible is irrelevant and they can live as they please, then what do we use as justification for telling them they should respect their elders and follow certain rules?