In this issue you can view the full text of the Foreword
FOREWORD / Page 187
Physical Punishment - Thinking About the Issues, Looking at the
Spare the Rod - Care for the Child
Physical Punishment of Children
Using Non - Violent Means to Parent Children, Through Understanding
How Problem Behaviours Develop
International and Local Perspectives on the Physical Punishment of
Children Are Unbeatable
Campaigning Against the Physical Punishment of Children
The Physical Punishment of Children
Conference Reflections: Some Practice and Practical Implications OF
Banning the Physical Punishment of Children Through Legislation
In this Issue
For me Child Care in Practice (CCiP) has become an invaluable source for checking the ‘state of play’ across a wide range of child care issues. Sometimes I need to do that as a means of trying to keep abreast of developments in areas I know nothing or very little about. Other times I want to check what views are current in areas that I have a particular interest in — how in or out of touch am I with others working in my areas of interest or with those receiving services. I value getting the views and experiences of a mixture of researchers, policy makers, operational managers and practitioners, from those within my own discipline of social work and from those outside of it. As the field of child care and our understanding of it becomes more complex there is both greater likelihood of, and need for, exchange and debate.
The Office of Law Reform (OLR) clearly recognised both that last point and the unique role played here in Northern Ireland by Child Care in Practice in providing a forum for informed exchange and debate. They approached the journal to organise a conference and to produce this special edition on the physical punishment of children. They rightly judged the journal’s ability to bring together an impressive collection of informed contributors who would take their own positions — the articles here express neither the view of the OLR nor the Editorial Board of CCiP.
The OLR may have also judged that their public consultation on legislation to protect children against physical punishment, the context and process of which is outlined in Claire Archbold’s paper, was likely to generate a great deal of heat but very little light. Indeed for me this subject falls into my second category for reading CCiP — an area in which I already have an interest. Indeed I would go as far as to admit to a partisan position. I wholeheartedly support Peter Newell (a contributor of one of the three substantial articles that lead off this special edition) in his commitment to a day when we look back in amazement and embarrassment at a time when adults discussed whether or not they should hit children, how hard, at what age and with what implements.
However we are at a point in our history where indignation is not sufficient to ensure change. We need the detailed information and reasoned arguments that are presented with clarity and authority by Professor Christina Lyon on domestic law, Peter Newell on international developments and Dr Fionnuala Leddy on the place of smacking and alternative approaches to behaviour management in parenting. These are substantial contributions to what is a UK, all Ireland and international child care debate.
The four shorter pieces that follow are more locally focused but provide case material and thoughtful commentary that have relevance to the wider debate. Professor Brice Dickson places the issue in the context of his concerns as Northern Ireland’s Human Rights Chief Commissioner. Tara Caul spells out the position of the NI Children’s Law Centre as part of the Children are Unbeatable Alliance. Bridgett Nodder sets out the reasons for the longstanding opposition of the NI Childminding Association. Grace Kelly reflects on the experience of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in addressing the issue on both a personal and a campaigning level.
Information and argument need to be processed and acted on. The ‘yes but ...‘ end piece by Stephen Coulter demonstrates that even with the weight of argument in favour of protecting children from physical punishment and promoting alternative, more effective and morally acceptable methods of behaviour management, there remains work to be done on working through the challenges that will emerge from putting this into practice.