The Retreat Of Common Sense

So, the Scottish Justice Minister is to propose a ban on corporal punishment of children under three years old. All going well (or rather badly), this half-baked proposal will become law throughout Scotland next year.

Let's get this straight; if you smack your two year old after this law is put on the statute books next year, then you are a criminal in your own household. Something else smacks here, it just smacks of a plain lack of common sense and, like Mr. Bumble, I'll say that the law is a bachelor!

Once again, the State declares itself to be the parent of last resort, the supreme paternalist and the haven for every loony leftist and pan-pacifist that stalks this land today. Neither must we forget that the EU court of human rights is once again breathing down the neck of an increasingly servile Britain.

This proposed ban does not go far enough for "anti-violence" pressure groups such as Children First who demand an outright ban at all ages and whose ilk continue to insult parents by accusing them of "beating" their own offspring. In this age of political correctness, these minnow groups gain the ear of government far too easily.

But to the main point, the State is interfering again and, despite its bluster about the family being the main building block of society, it plainly declares itself to be the self-appointed cornerstone of society. When will they stop? The government is acting like a two-year old itself in demanding the right to control everything within its sight.

Let me tell you about two year olds. I feel qualified in this subject being the father of one myself. In fact, Peter, bless him, reminds me a bit of the State. Being what they call a 98 percentile, he is a big lad and likes to throw his weight around; just like the State, I muse to myself.

When he wants something but it is refused him, he takes evasive action and engages in whatever means is necessary to get it. Just like the State, I muse again to myself.

Being a toddler, he believes he is the centre of everything and that all should revolve around him. I muse again.

He tries his hand at various things, such as inserting books into the video cassette player, and I muse again that, like the State, he does not do a lot of things very well (at least in his case, he will improve). So, we have two wills here presuming greatness, that of the toddler and that of the State. Very similar, I am sure you will agree. But how do we keep the presumptions of the former in check?

A smack is a time proven means of keeping in check the embryonic arrogance that threatens to develop into a spoilt child. Let's face it; parenting techniques that have survived millennia of numerous field trails and tests tend to stand on their own two feet. For sure, there are other techniques, and one must not overdo them, but no one tactic is suitable for all situations. Take away chastisement and you have a stunted parent.

Let's make a few predictions about this derisory proposal. It will swell the ranks of the spoilt brats we already knew were appearing on a future horizon. It will increase divorce rates as the already tense pace of family life increases due to uncontrollable children being given an even longer leash. It will decrease parental affection as such prolonged tantrums erode the parent-child bond in a subtle but real manner. It will actually lead to destitution of certain "offending" families.

Think this is all a bit far fetched? A man was prosecuted with assault in Scotland in 1998 after repeatedly smacking his daughter in public for refusing to go for dental treatment. The politically correct machine of the State cranked into action in a truly persecuting manner.

He was a state school teacher and was immediately demoted to a librarian on the ridiculous presumption that he was suddenly (after all those years) a threat to his pupils. Last May, his ruling body of teachers, charged him with gross misconduct and moved to strike him off the list of teachers.

Meanwhile, the local government served a compulsory supervision order on his children and social workers visited his home once a week to check the children's health, education and well-being. It is fair to say that political correctness has, rather than protecting the child, made her life hell and made things far worse in that family than any parental chastisement could have done.

Like I said, the toddler-like State does not do things very well when it has no right to do them at all. Pushing toast into a VCR is not a disaster, being pushed out of job and being labelled a criminal is. May this piece of legislative nonsense never see the light of day.

September 7, 2001

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