Not a place for a national debate

In the news today, PM Kevin Rudd admits smacking his kids. The headline sounds different from the text though.

Weighing in to the debate, Mr Rudd said: “And the rule that’s been applied in our family ever since they were tots is that if they’re doing something dangerous they’ll get a, you know, whack across the knuckles.”

“The key thing is a gentle tap on the wrists which is usually, if you know anything about two and three-year-olds, the cause of the quivering bottom lip and the general collapse into tears.”

That seems pretty different from a wooden spoon. Indeed, check out this picture of Mrs Cunningham from Happy Days.

Firefox She is clearly slapping Richie (who is hardly a child but let’s admit that is not the point). And she is hardly the poster child for bad parent. Don’t believe me, watch the video at around 26 seconds in.

Now I don’t want to say I’m condoning anything. But as I have written about elsewhere, punishment is a tough parental issue. What is clear is that it is very difficult to have a national discussion on this in the media. It looks like psychologists are attacking the PM too harshly. Who would care about a rap on the knuckles?

But then let me leave you with a thought on how difficult this is. Half way through writing this post, it occurred to me that it took all of 2 minutes for me to recall and then locate the picture above. This was something I watched 30 years ago and it only appears in one season of Happy Days intros. Yet, I remembered it. What does that tell you about a rap on the knuckles.

2 thoughts on “Not a place for a national debate”

  1. Does the example make it more or less difficult? If the deterrent was not memorable, any discomfort caused immediately following a rap on the knuckles would be just that, with no longer term benefit (and perhaps many more punishments).  Am I totally missing some point?


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