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Why smacking children can ‘traumatise’ them

Oliver Peterson
Article image for Why smacking children can ‘traumatise’ them

A new Harvard University study has found smacking children can traumatise them to the same level as severe violent abuse.

It found smacked children are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, behavioural problems and develop substance abuse issues.

One of Australia’s leading parenting experts said he wasn’t surprised as this is consistent with research that has been conducted over the last 50 years. Justin Coulson told Oliver Peterson it’s “morally wrong” that it’s still legal to hit a child in Australia.

“If I want hit someone in this country, the only person that it’s legal for me to hit, is a child,” he said.

“I’m not allowed to hit my spouse or partner…I’m not allowed to kick my dog…I’m not allowed to hit somebody on the street.

“But if my kid… does something I don’t like, I’m perfectly legally within my rights to give them a whack.”

Mr Coulson said a better alternative was to work “with” a misbehaving child.

“You can’t teach a child a good way to act by teaching them badly,” he said.

Also referencing a study out of Montreal, Mr Coulson said teenagers who were smacked as small children had a smaller pre-frontal cortex was “measurably smaller.”

“This is the part of the brain you need to be a functional, effective adult,” he said

“We’re talking about just smacking, we’re not talking about abuse.”

A campaign was launched at the beginning of the year to make WA the first state in Australia to outlaw smacking.

“I’d love to see Premier McGowan be as firm on this issue as he is on borders.

“This is something that could actually change generations.”

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(Photo credit – iStock by Getty)

Oliver Peterson