Physical discipline is a form of punishment that makes people uncomfortable or gives them pain. This is also called corporal punishment. When parents spank their children, this is physical discipline. Some people think this is the best way to correct bad behavior, but that approach is becoming less common these days.
Many people today believe that spanking or hitting a child for any reason is wrong. It sends the message that “might makes right,” or that whoever is stronger gets to make the rules. It keeps children from learning how to trust people and it encourages bullying, these people would say. While public opinion used to be that physical discipline was good for children, that has changed over the years. There was a time when children could be spanked in school by teachers, but that has changed in many places too.
The Scottish Parliament, which is a lot like our Congress, passed a law to ban all physical discipline in the country – meaning that parents won’t be able to spank their children anymore. Scotland is now the first country in the United Kingdom to make spanking illegal, but Sweden was the first country in the world to do it in 1979.
Before this new law, spanking was allowed, but if someone complained, the Scottish courts would decide whether the punishment was reasonable. Most of the time though, slapping in the face or spanking with belts or wooden spoons or other objects were considered assault and not reasonable punishment for a misbehaving child. Spanking in school was already illegal and had been for a long time.
Even though physical discipline is not as popular as it used to be, there are many who think that banning spanking across the nation is going too far. The new law in Scotland is being talked about all over the world, and everyone is curious to see whether other countries will soon do the same or continue to allow parents to decide what punishment is appropriate.