Did you know spanking was outlawed in Sweden in the late 70s?
That’s right. It’s illegal in the country of Sweden to spank, slap, swat, or switch a child. They were the first country to do so, but in the 30 years that have since passed, over 20 other countries have followed suit.
Proponents say that the law protects adults from being hit by others, and so logically it should protect children equally. The abolishment of spanking is a human rights issue, they say. It’s about protecting children from violence.
While Sweden has been lauded by many, its spank-free zone is not without its critics. Opponents say that parents and teachers are unable to maintain proper authority over children, and even claim (though it has been disputed) that child abuse and juvenile crime have both increased since the ban.
While many would think I side with the proponents, given my stance in this previous post, I’m actually somewhere in between.
Spanking is not good practice and I agree with much of the philosophy behind the ban, but the ban itself is not something I favor. Simply telling people what they can’t do won’t necessarily cause them to do what they should. It’s the same when working with kids – you have to Say What You Need to See.
Parents generally use the best tools they know how to use when raising their children. I don’t think many parents really intentionally settle for anything less than the best for their children. So, if a parent is using spanking as a parenting tool, it’s safe to say that they feel it is one of the best tools —if not the only tool—they have. While the claims of more abuse and more juvenile delinquency have been argued, I could see how parents, who had possibly lost the only tool they knew how to use, would either resort to permissive parenting or abusive parenting as a response to feeling stripped of their tools — helpless and powerless.
In my view, the problem is not best addressed by binding parents’ hands and keeping them from negative parenting, but by teaching them how to effectively parent from a positive approach. If you teach people how to use better tools, they will likely abandon the less effective tool on their own—without the controversial ban.
What is your “go-to” parenting tool?
Top photo by Beniamin Pop.