A segment about smacking children on Good Morning Britain has sparked controversy after one panellist compared the act to breastfeeding.
Kate Ivens, from the charity Campaign for Real Education, argued that smacking kids taught them the severity of their actions, stating that parents have ‘tactile’ relationships with their children.
‘I’m saying we have a tactile relationship with our children,’ she said. ‘We hug them, we kiss them, we breastfeed them and so on and there are times when, like the child running out into the road, I remember when my children did that and I shook them [and said] “Never do this again”.’
Hosts Jeremy Kyle and Kate Garraway seemed on the fence, questioning at what stage a line needed to be drawn when physically disciplining children.
‘I’ve been in a supermarket and I’ve seen a woman whack a child leaving marks on the back of his legs,’ said Jeremy. ‘Terribly uncomfortable but I probably got a clip round the ear as a kid.’
Kate added: ‘Is it always wrong? I think the thing about smacking is, in order to be clear, because there’s so many interpretations of what a smack is, people feel like they have to come down on one side or another.’
Arguing against smacking was former teacher Sue Atkins, who said: ‘I used to be a deputy head and class teacher for 25 years so if a child hits another child in the playground, you say that’s aggression.’
‘If an adult hits another adult in a pub you say that’s assault. If I hit, or a parent hits a child, you say “oh no that’s discipline”.’
Viewers on social media were similarly divided, with many taking to Facebook to share their thoughts.
‘The woman with the hat on is talking absolute rubbish…..she’s one of the reasons that children are so out of control, because the child can quickly say that it is being beaten.. I don’t advocate smacking for smacking sake.. but for goodness sake, use some common sense…. I very rarely smacked my children when they were growing up, but when they were smacked,it was for a jolly good reason…’, wrote one commenter.
Another said: ‘We call it a crack in Yorkshire… I used to get a crack…didn’t do me any harm… my kids get one every now and then…guess what..both respectful young men..have good manners and values. Problem is we’ve got too soft…discipline at school gone, respect gone …. old values need to come back… with a bit of discipline & the odd CRACK.’
However, other commenters weren’t so convinced, with one writing: ‘It depends entirely on the child, some respond to stern words only, others do not. As long as you’re not beating them, it should be a parents choice.’
A second agreed: ‘There’s other ways of disciplining your child. Why would you want to hit your child? I remember being scared of getting hit and I wouldn’t want my child to feel scared of me.’
A poll conducted by the show found that 54% of viewers agreed with smacking, whilst 46% thought it was a step too far.