Rule out smacking children – Archbishop
Archbishop Barry washes the feet of nine-month
Smacking children demeans and devalues them, the Archbishop of Wales will say at a vigil service tomorrow (Tuesday Nov 20) dedicated to ending legalised violence against children.
Dr Barry Morgan will say children deserve as much respect and care as adults and physical punishment of them should be ruled out.
The Archbishop will be speaking at a vigil service at a church in Cardiff to mark Universal Children’s Day, a world day of prayer and action for children.
During the service, which is also supported by the charity, Children in Wales and Children Are Unbeatable! Cymru, Dr Morgan will wash children’s feet and church leaders will light candles in prayer as an act of remembrance for children who have suffered violence. Messages of support will also be read out from Assembly Members and from Peter Newell, coordinator of the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children.
The Archbishop will say, “Jesus believed that children were not just an asset for the future or a commitment to be undertaken for the sake of society. They were of infinite value as children. They deserved as much respect and care as any other human being.
“The Good Childhood Report produced by the Children’s Society in 2009 said that when children were asked what makes for a good life, what they wanted more than anything else was love. And if all of that is true, how can we ever think that smacking or using physical force on children can ever be right. None of us would ever dream of smacking an adult, why should we think smacking a child is any more acceptable. They too are made in God’s image, valued as the individuals they are. That does not mean that anything goes as far as bringing up children is concerned – but it does rule out physical punishment.”
The Vigil takes place at Eglwys Dewi Sant, St Andrew’s Crescent, Cardiff, tomorrow at 6.30pm. It will be led by the vicar, the Revd Dyfrig Lloyd and is supported by the charity Children in Wales.
A joint statement from Welsh Christian leaders supporting the removal of the “reasonable punishment” defence follows.
For more information, please contact:
Archbishop's Media Officer / Swyddog y Cyfryngau i'r Archesgob
Tel: 02920 348208; mobile: 07 91 91 587 94
39 Cathedral Rd, Cardiff / 39 Heol y Gadeirlan, Caerdydd
This Vigil takes place on the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children (DPAC) which is observed each year on Universal Children’s Day. The DPAC three-year theme (2011-13) is: “Stop Violence Against Children”. The Vigil is held as an expression of respect for children and of solidarity and support for ending legalised violence against children.
Across the world 33 countries have passed a law to give children their right to full protection from physical punishment; 23 of these are in Europe. Within the EU, the UK is one of only four countries that have not prohibited physical punishment.
In the last decade Wales has led the way in promoting children’s rights and the Welsh Government has clearly stated its opposition to corporal punishment. In 2009 the Welsh Government stated: “We accept the United Nations Committee’s recommendation that the reasonable punishment defence ought to be removed so that children and young people can enjoy the same level of protection in law that adults do.”
Christian Statement supporting the removal of the “reasonable punishment” defence
We believe that legislation to remove the defence of “reasonable punishment” is crucial because it reflects the compassionate, non-violent society we want for all children.
Physical punishment of children has for too long been a common part of our culture. But physical punishment as a form of discipline is incompatible with the core religious values of respect for children’s human dignity, justice and non-violence. There are no circumstances under which this painful and humiliating practice can be justified.
Some Christian groups use their religion to justify physical punishment and may argue that it is sanctioned in scriptural texts such as in Proverbs 13:24: Those who spare the rod hate their children, but those who love them are diligent to discipline them. But it is not appropriate to take such texts out of their ancient cultural context to justify violence towards children. As Christians, our reading of the Bible is done through the lens of Jesus’ teaching and example. Jesus treated children with respect and placed them in the middle of the group, as in Mark 9:37:
Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
We want to emphasise that law reform must go hand in hand with support for parents, widespread public education and the promotion of positive, non-violent discipline. But children should not have to wait for public opinion to change, or for the delivery of better services to families. While the law sends the message that it is defensible to hit a child, children will continue to be hit. And in “at risk” families, children may be exposed to severe assaults in the name of discipline.
The word “discipline” is for many people synonymous with physical punishment. But the root meaning of the word is “to teach” and positive non-violent discipline is about teaching children by adult example. It is based on empathy, compassion and an understanding of child development and is both respectful and kind. It involves supporting and guiding children and it is the best way to promote self-discipline.
People often express concern that banning smacking will mean that many good and loving parents will face prosecution for “light” smacking. But as in the many other European countries where children enjoy equal protection under the law, parents will not be charged and prosecuted unless doing so is necessary to protect the child from significant harm.
Evidence of the harm caused by physical punishment in the short and long-term is well documented and we are aware that its legality continues to undermine the work of child protection and parent educators.
This is an opportunity for us to honour children’s human right to equal protection and make significant progress towards a just and peaceful society.
The Most Revd Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales
The Very Revd Geoffrey Marshall, Dean of Brecon
The Rt Revd (John) Wyn Evans, Bishop of St David’s, Church in Wales
The Revd Dr Michael N. Jagessar Secretary - Racial Justice & Multicultural Ministry (Mission Department) The United Reformed Church
The Revd Peter C Noble, Lead Chaplain Cardiff Bay Local Ecumenical Partnership, Goleulong 2000 Lightship, Cardiff Bay
The Revd Simon Walkling, Synod Moderator Elect for the United Reformed Church National Synod of Wales
Entered By Anna Morrell - 21.11.12Anna Morrell, Archbishop’s Media Officer
Church in Wales
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