Child health experts in Australia have called for the smacking of children and other physical punishments to be completely outlawed. The medicos from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) want legal defences for the use of such discipline to be scrapped. Children should be protected from assault, just as adults were, they claim. Associate Professor Susan Moloney, President of the RACP’s Paediatrics & Child Health Division, also called for better support for parents and caregivers to educate them about the potential harmful effects of physical punishment and other violence on children.           

“Research is increasingly showing that physical punishment may be harmful and children who receive physical punishment are at increased risk for a range of adverse outcomes both in childhood and as adults,” Associate Professor Moloney said. “These include mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, aggressive or antisocial behaviour, substance use problems and abuse of their own children or spouse. “While many children will not experience negative outcomes as a result of moderate or reasonable physical punishment, why put your child’s future health and emotional wellbeing at risk?” 

Professor Kim Oates, Fellow of the RACP’s Paediatrics & Child Health Division and Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, University of Sydney, said there are more effective ways to discipline children. “Parents and caregivers want to do the right thing for their child and should be supported to use more positive methods for managing a child’s behaviour,” Professor Oates said. “Discipline is an essential part of good parenting, and effective discipline is about guiding a child so that they learn appropriate behaviour, and is grounded in a positive, supporting, loving relationship between parent and child.” 

The RACP claim studies have shown that despite the apparent immediate compliance children do not actually learn the desired behaviour. Instead, they learn to avoid the negative behaviour in the presence of the adult. The RACP acknowledged it may take time for its position on smacking to be accepted, but believes the process and the public discussion should be commenced. While studies have shown that the majority of Australian parents still smack their children, support for the practice is declining, it claims. In 2002, 75% of surveyed adults in Australia agreed with the statement that it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child – this decreased to 69% in 2006. 

The RACP pointed out that in the 33 countries where the physical punishment of children is illegal, there is evidence that attitudes have shifted. Countries that have banned the physical punishment of children have also seen increased early identification of children at risk of abuse, and very low rates of mortality associated with child abuse, it added. “Many cases of physical abuse are the result of physical punishment that became more severe than intended and the difficulty with allowing the physical punishment of children is that the line can be easily blurred between abuse and ‘reasonable’ force or chastisement when disciplining a child,” Associate Professor Moloney said.  

Meanwhile a family group in New Zealand is warning Australian parents to reject any proposed ban on smacking, saying that from their experience, it will do more harm than good, will have no effect on child abuse rates, but will criminalise good parents raising great kids. “The rates of child abuse deaths in New Zealand have stayed at the same rate as they were before the anti-smacking law was passed there. The ban has targeted good parents, rather than the rotten parents who are abusing their children, and has wasted valuable time and resources of the police and social agencies,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. 

A recent survey of 1,000 New Zealanders found that only 12% of respondents think the law change has had any effect on the rate of child abuse. The survey also found that 75% back a law change to allow “correctional” smacking of children. And two out of three respondents said they would flout the law and smack their child to correct their behaviour if they thought it was reasonable to do so. Another survey in 2011 found that 30% of parents say that their children have threatened to report them if they were smacked. And almost 25% of parents  say that they have less confidence when dealing with unacceptable behaviour from their children since the anti-smacking law was passed.

“A review of police activity related to the anti-smacking law reveals that some 600 kiwi families have had a police investigation for allegations of smacking since the anti-smacking law was passed yet only 9% of them have been serious enough to warrant charges being laid.” “In the meantime, cases of actual child abuse have increased by a third in the past 5 years,” says Mr McCoskrie. “Children will never be safe until we are honest enough as a country to identify and tackle the real causes of child abuse, rather than pass ‘feel-good’ but ineffectual laws.” Six years on from the ban on smacking in NZ, opposition remains as strong as ever with 87% opposition to the smacking ban.

Source: Compiled by APN from various sources



Teenage angst and rage at parents is overstated, according to a new report which reveals that an overwhelming 72% of teens are highly satisfied with their relationships with their parents.  The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) report, shows mothers are particularly upbeat, with 82% of them expressing satisfaction with their relationship with their children, compared to 71% of fathers with their father-child relationship. These statistics rang true for the Maybury family, of Rowville, in Melbourne’s outer east, with their youngest daughter, Hannah, 16. Hannah’s 21-year-old brother and 18-year-old sister are both still living at home, and the family still eat together most nights. 

Hannah said she sometimes had disagreements with her parents over “small things”, but the relationship was generally very good. “I feel happy that they love me and care about what I’m doing and do the best they can for me,” she said. Mr Maybury said he and his wife thought it crucial to be involved in their children’s lives by volunteering at their schools and sporting clubs. Mrs Maybury said communication was integral to maintaining good relationships. “It does get harder when they’re teenagers, and it’s definitely harder than it was when we were teenagers, but it’s about having a supportive partner, discussing the issues, and being prepared to compromise,” she said. 

AIFS director Alan Hayes said most young people and their parents were very happy with their relationships with each other. “On a rating scale of zero to 10, most adolescents rank their parents at 8 or above,” Professor Hayes said. The study found relationships between step-parents and children were not as happy. Thirty-eight per cent of girls and 48 per cent of boys were highly satisfied with their relationships with step-parents. AIFS assistant director of research Ruth Weston personal relationships with stepchildren were “much trickier”. She said 42 per cent of stepmothers and 57 per cent of stepfathers were highly satisfied with the relationship they had with their stepchildren.

Source: Compiled by APN from media reports



Only a few years ago embryonic stem cells were touted as the great medical breakthrough for curing multitudes of diseases. However, after the spending of millions of dollars and years of research actual successes still stand at a paltry zero. Many will remember in 2003, Superman star Christopher Reeve sharing a platform with then NSW premier Bob Carr, speaking on the wonders of embryonic stem cells. Even then, corroborating evidence was not available and a decade later, the situation has not changed. ‘Do No Harm—the Coalition of Americans for Research Ethics’ and Australia’s Ethical Stem Cell Research currently list 73 effective treatments associated with adult stem cells. 

Macquarie Stem Cells, a medical centre in Sydney specialise in treatments using adult stem cells from the patient’s own body. They state they have “successfully treated more than 150 patients for a range of conditions…including osteoarthritis…back pain, rotator cuff syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Macquarie Stem Cells has had experience with multiple sclerosis patients in treating the symptoms of the condition. Other conditions including psoriasis and asthma have also been treated at the clinic. It is worth being reminded that the physical and ethical problems associated with using embryonic stem cells are circumvented by the adult stem cell technology.

Source: The Choices of Life Inc