Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Children must learn responsibility goes with rights

I must challenge the nonsense coming from the Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley.



When asked whether she made any distinction between physical abuse, where someone deliberately sets out to harm a child, and a loving parent smacking their child in the hope it would make them a better person, Ms Lewsley stated: “No. Children have told us that hitting is humiliating. Even though they would say their parents are loving and caring, it is still humiliating.”

Ms Lewsley advocates the ‘time out’ method as one alternative to smacking. As the father of three, I wonder about the practicalities of such a method in, for example, a busy shopping centre or walking beside a main road, when one child throws a tantrum.

In such fraught circumstances, could a toddler really be led to understand that they needed time out, to ‘consider their actions,’ or to think about the possible dangers? I doubt it. The whole idea is ridiculous.

Ms Lewsley says she did not want to drag parents through the courts, but just how she is going to ban smacking without criminalising parents who smack is not explained.

She talks about ‘positive parenting strategies’. To date, Ms Lewsley's madcap desire to ban parents’ rights to discipline their own children by smacking has cost the Northern Ireland taxpayer £200,000. Money well spent in these credit crunch times? I think not.

No good parent would support a brutish use of force through the merciless use of the strap or a beating to discipline a child. Most parents believe, as I do, that the timely use of the odd smack or two may be used to instil self-discipline, foster good manners and bring about sensible appropriate behaviour.

Interestingly, Ms Lewsley also states, that while she taught children about their rights she did not see it as her role to teach them about their responsibilities. Is this the type of selfish future society we wish to promote, where people know all about their rights, but not their responsibilities? With leadership from the likes of Ms Lewsley this is where we are headed, if not there already.

T J McClean

Belfast

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