Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

JAMIE KINLOCHAN: Smacking didn’t do you any harm? That makes you one of the lucky ones

Scotland has outlawed smacking, but it remains a controversial topic.
Scotland has outlawed smacking, but it remains a controversial topic.

The other day, my godson really didn’t want to wash his hair.

I started shaving my head four years ago to avoid being mistaken for Hulk Hogan, so I had to reach back into memories of childhood to understand where he was coming from.

I remember it was a nightmare to get shampoo in my eyes, even when the guarantee promised no tears.

The ‘painless’ detangling comb my mum used might as well have been made of barbed wire.

And the towel she used to dry me? Surely made of the roughest sandpaper on the market.

So I get why this process would feel like a disturbance to my godson.

This is a child who gets to choose the music he listens to when he’s in the bath, has the pick of his toys bobbing around and benefits from my mastery at creating masses of bubbles with a sieve – a trick my mum taught me.

Still, the hair needs washed so after the third “Right pal, it’s time…”, I turned the shower on.

And that’s when he said “I’m feeling red.”

So I turned the shower off and prepared for conversation.

The power of words – a lesson for life

He’s been reading a book called The Colour Monster in nursery and it has opened a whole new space for conversation about how he’s feeling.

In the book, the monster has a lot of jumbled feelings.

By talking about how them with a pal, the monster is able to work out what’s happening and name the emotions going on inside.

And so was my godson.

Red means anger – a lesson for parents there too. Photo: Shutterstock.

After a short conversation, he understood he needed to wash his hair.

And I understood that staying up for an extra half hour to play Sonic Racing on my Playstation would be just the thing to help him move from the frustrating anger of red to the loving contentment of pink.

I was so impressed and proud that he was able to use what he had learned to negotiate a good outcome for both of us.

But according to comments last week from Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Wes Streeting, and the Conservative’s Education Secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, that interaction may have gone differently in their homes.

Studies suggest smacking does cause lasting damage

Rejecting a call from England’s Children’s Commissioner to follow the lead of Scotland and Wales and protect children from harm, Nadhim Zahawi said he has never hit his children – but that his wife has.

Wes Streeting laughed when he describing being smacked by his parents and said it didn’t do him any harm.

Before making any moves, Wes Streeting says we need to look at the evidence. I think that’s important too.

Because the evidence shows that hitting children can cause longer term harm to their wellbeing.

Last year, researchers at University College London found children who have adverse experiences, like being smacked, are more likely to suffer from poor mental health and have behavioural problems through to age 14.

The extensive study also links harsh parenting – shouting and smacking instead of talking and listening – with worse mental health outcomes.

Harvard University recently conducted research that found people who have been smacked can perceive threat in facial expressions and behaviours that other people would not.

And they find it harder to regulate their responses to fear in later life.

A rally outside the Scottish Parliament in 2009 as the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill faced its final debate and vote. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire.

The evidence also shows hitting children is not an effective way to change behaviour.

Dr Elizabeth Gershoff, who has studied the impact of hitting children, says it only gets their attention, and does nothing to help them understand right from wrong.

The same view was shared by a coalition of children’s organisations in Scotland, who conducted research which concluded that smacking children was “at best an ineffective form of discipline and at worst, harmful for children’s health and development”.

Scotland is in good company in outlawing smacking

Sweden became the first state to offer children equal protection in law in 1979.

Sixty-two more countries have followed, with the Republic of Korea and Colombia joining them in 2021.

Other states have committed to law reform so that children are protected from corporal punishment. These include China, the United Arab Emirates and Sierra Leone.

And in Scotland, the Equal Protection From Assault Act passed with cross-party votes (including those of Wes Streeting’s Labour colleagues) and with support from the Scottish Youth Parliament.

If being smacked has made no difference to Wes Streeting’s life, or his relationship with his parents, the research suggests he is an exception rather than the rule.

And I have difficulty reconciling his stance that hitting children is fine (as long as you don’t leave a mark) with his desire to run the NHS.

We can’t seriously want someone who thinks there is nuance in adults hitting children to be in charge of health services.

All children deserve to be protected from assault.

And they deserve more from politicians than anecdotes designed to play to the worst impulses of the people they need to keep them in power.

Jamie Kinlochan is a campaigner for social justice and a consultant, working to tell the stories of those who are often unheard.

JAMIE KINLOCHAN: The week we won the lottery and got to live like other families

Already a subscriber? Sign in





Please enter the name you would like to appear on your comments. (It doesn’t have to be your real name - but nothing rude please, we are a polite bunch!) Use a combination of eight or more characters that includes an upper and lower case character, and a number.

By registering with [[site_name]] you agree to our Terms and Conditions and our Privacy Policy

Or sign up with

Facebook Google



Or login with

Forgotten your password?