Dear Cathy, I grew up in a culture that believed a good spanking had its place in discipline. An aunt gave a niece a spanking on her sixteenth birthday. My own mother had a black leather strip. I was one of five kids born between 1956 and 1962. When were really naughty my mother would get out the leather strap (called plat-riem in Afrikaans, literally translated flat strap). Often that action alone served the purpose. Occasionally she gave the offending child a good spanking – I got a few, because I could be quite a handful. Another characteristic of my culture was to threaten children they would get it when daddy came home. In many houses daddy served as the ultimate disciplinarian. My dad use to cut some nice quince shoots in spring and keep them in his bedroom, on top of his wardrobe. When he had to fulfil his duty he would take you into the bedroom and deal with you. In your book you strongly emphasise the view of not spanking a child. In South Africa it is not against the law to give a child a spanking. In my school days it was common practice.
Thomas, S Africa
CG: Dear Thomas, thank you for sharing your experiences. Corporal punishment used to be used widely in the UK until the 1960’s when a more liberal attitude to parenting emerged, together with research that showed hitting children did not alter their behaviour in a positive way. Indeed, it was shown to create feelings of anger, resentment, hostility, and shame in the child, which you may remember from the physical punishment you received? I also personally believe it is wrong to hit another person whether it is an adult or child. I hope this goes someway to explaining my position on physical punishment. Cathy