School telling mom off for smacking her kid

(167 Posts)
squareheadcut Thu 29-Nov-12 10:12:45

A parent I know has 3 kids under 5 and lives in a two bedroom small flat, she's a single mum and is going back to work from maternity leave in a few weeks - basically she's got a lot on her plate but does an amazing job under these circumstances.

To discipline the eldest (age 6) she occasionally smacks with her hand and always explains what she's done it for and hugs him after. Now I don't agree with this discipline method but that's how she was brought up.

The teachers are on her back at the school telling her that this smacking is "on her child's record" and she has been brought in for a 'meeting' with the welfare teacher about it and had 'child protection' and 'social services' words said to her in what sounds like thinly veiled blackmail.

It has made her angry and will lead to another smack for the kid when he gets home tonight for saying stuff about her at school - basically leading to a worsening of their relationship.

I just think the school are handling it wrongly, rather than supporting her and trying to change her behaviour they seem to make matters worse.

What do you guys think? How should schools handle this sort of thing? Should they be threatening with child protection or ignoring it or what? I know they're in a difficult position but surely they can do better than this? It's not against the law for smacking your child after all whether you agree with it or not....

I can only presume that the teachers are following this up because the child is being hit at home, and they have no way at this point of assessing whether this is reasonal chastisement or physical abuse. I think both sides are wrong about this - if the school suspected abuse they should contact social services, not the mother who is now "warned off" her behaviour. The mother hitting her child because he told school that he's being hit at home is well out of order - he was factually correct, why shouldn't he tell school that this is happening to him - what is your friend afraid of if she feels that this is a legitimate form of punishment.

The three kids under 5 and 2 bed flat and returning to work are red herrings by the way - if this is the way she was brought up and choses to bring up her children, she'll do that irrelevant of her current situation.

Sorry but poor kid - he told the school and they handled it really shoddily and got him hit by his mother as a result. He's not really likely to confide in the school again in future is he? I suspect that you wrote your post hoping for sympathy for your friend but I'm afraid I only have sympathy for her son.

So he's going to get another slap for talking about being slapped? <baffled>

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 10:25:37

It's a difficult one. The law on smacking is a stupid fudge. Schools have a responsibility to ensure that children are not abused and if they suspect abuse they are obliged to act. Everybody in this situation is in a difficult position.

I'm not sure which particular record the school are referring to. If the smacking didn't take place in school and there's no evidence that it was excessive or even happened at all, I can't see what record they can be referring to. If on the other hand the school means that issues concerning the child's welfare have been raised and recorded then that's different. And it would simply be a fact. I don't think it involves blackmail.

Presumably the issues will be addressed by any and all agencies which involve themselves in such matters and it may all come to nothing. I think there is a level of bureaucracy involved in such procedures. My 18 month old spilled a cup of tea on herself in a cafe once. We took her to A&E. Later that night I got a telephone call from social services asking if there was anything that I wanted to explain to them?! WTF?! I told them that there wasn't, thanked them for calling and put the phone down.

RooneyMara Thu 29-Nov-12 10:25:52

Really upsetting to think she will hit him again for daring to tell anyone about it.

If she doesn't see it as abuse then why isn't he allowed to tell?

Makes me bloody angry when parents bully their children like this.

ChestnutsRoastingonaWitchesTit Thu 29-Nov-12 10:26:07

Your friend is handling it wrongly not the school.

He'll get a smack for telling school that he gets smacked at home????

Your friend needs to have this issue highlighted. I think the school could be a bit more constructive and help her find ways of disciplining her child that doesn't involve physical violence.

stargirl1701 Thu 29-Nov-12 10:30:28

The school are legally obligated to follow up if a child talks about being hit at home. It's basic child protection.

I can't believe she is going to smack him for talking about smacking. She feels guilty. If she believed what she was doing is right then she would be unthreatened by him discussing it at school.

saadia Thu 29-Nov-12 10:30:53

I think if the child mentioned it then the school has to act. It's not really their job to teach her good parenting.

OP - your first 2 paras made me think that your friend's approach to discipline was probably ok. Not mine. But everyone is different.

But if you are hitting children for something hours after teh fact, it isn't appropriate. Also - she is hitting him for telling the truth. therefore I think she does need to re-think things.

littleducks Thu 29-Nov-12 10:32:56

Well she hasn't hit him for telling yet, that might be an assumption on OPs part or something the mum said in anger at the time which she would not follow through.

The school have handled this badly. Parents are allowed to smack their children, if the school disagree with this they need to lobby the government or something.

If the school suspect it is abuse/goes beyond what is allowed in law then they should be following their safeguarding policies. This would not involve telling the mother. If it was genuine abuse she would then have been 'warned' and could totally ruin any enquiry SS would make. This would then put an abused child in a vulnerable position.

Kendodd Thu 29-Nov-12 10:33:06

shock that the child was hit when he got home for telling the school his mum hits him.

That is not reasonable chastisement, he should have had no punishment whatsoever and if your friend was confident in her parenting he wouldn't have. Fine if she chooses to hit him but it sounds like she is ashamed of her choices if he is expected to keep it secret.

Hitting your children is not illegal. IMO it might not be the best parenting but that's another story. If she has chosen to use physical chastisement then she should be willing to stand up and defend her decision. If the school don't like it then tough.

GobblersSparklyExplodingKnob Thu 29-Nov-12 10:34:18

A guy I know has 2 jobs and lives in a two bedroom small flat, he works hard and is changing jobs in a few weeks - basically he's got a lot on his plate but does an amazing job under these circumstances.

To discipline his wife he occasionally smacks with his hand and always explains what he's done it for and hugs her after. Now I don't agree with this discipline method but that's how he was brought up.

Now the police are on his back telling him that this smacking is "on his record" and he might have to pop down to the station over it and had 'domestic violence' and 'prosecution' words said to him in what sounds like thinly veiled blackmail.

It has made him angry and will lead to another smack for her when he gets home tonight for saying stuff about him - basically leading to a worsening of their relationship.

Why the fuck is it okay when it is a child?

What do you think about the above situation?

Floralnomad Thu 29-Nov-12 10:38:43

The school have no alternatives but to act if a child tells them he is being hit . This is the risk you take if you use smacking as a form of discipline. Your friends living arrangements and the number of children she has is an irrelevance, I'm sure there are lots of people in her situation who don't feel the need to smack their children.

mamij Thu 29-Nov-12 10:42:46

The school may have handled the situation badly, but if your friend is going to smack her DS again for telling the school then your friend needs to think about her own actions.

Startail Thu 29-Nov-12 10:44:08

Smacking is not illegal in England. It is nothing to do with the school unless they suspect actual abuse.

In that case they should report it to the SS.

What in earth is a Welfare teacher? Either your friends DS raised serious issues which should be dealt with by the appropriate channels or he had a good moan about a perfectly appropriate punishment in which case they should butt out.

Schools expect parents to support them, they should support the parents in return.

It is not their place to make moral judgements on the rights and wrongs of smacking in the home.

"It has made her angry and will lead to another smack for the kid when he gets home tonight for saying stuff about her at school - basically leading to a worsening of their relationship"

Which makes you think that perhaps the school is right to be concerned hmm

squareheadcut Thu 29-Nov-12 10:47:26

I know that the smacking thing is not the way forward and I don't agree with it, but surely the point is it's NOT illegal and she needs to be encouraged to stop doing it, rather the alienating her and leading to more smacking - that's why i disagree with the school rather than looking for any sympathy for her here.

I think it's naive to assume that she shouldn't be worried about threats to social services and this is the reason she would want her child not to say anything at school. She's worried cos she knows that the school can end up taking it further and then you never know what can happen, it seems a bit of minefield to me.

squareheadcut Thu 29-Nov-12 10:50:27

the problem is the school should be supporting parents and it should be a virtuous circle, bu i really feel this school is not supportive and it just turns things into a vicious cycle instead

learnandsay Thu 29-Nov-12 10:51:03

Well, I can see one way out, which is for the mum to stop hitting the child for a start.

squareheadcut Thu 29-Nov-12 10:52:47

well i can't tell her to stop doing it and neither can the school right? or wrong? dunno

diddlediddledumpling Thu 29-Nov-12 10:55:53

Excellent post Gobblers. Agree 100%.

RooneyMara Thu 29-Nov-12 10:56:09

Oh and yes, I'm a single mother with (almost) 3 children in a two bedroom flat. I don't feel the need to smack mine. Certainly not as punishment for telling someone that I smacked them, either.

I'm sure her life is difficult but then, a lot of people's lives are difficult and that doesn't change anything regarding 'discipline' or abuse.

"She's worried cos she knows that the school can end up taking it further and then you never know what can happen" - with no evidence of abuse at all? I can tell you, absolutely nothing can happen, because nothing did happen and there's no evidence. SWs would have enough to deal with elsewhere.

Also, why is it the school's job to support her parenting style? Their job is to educate and support her child, surely?

quietlysuggests Thu 29-Nov-12 10:57:25

What she does in public and admits to you, will be only a fraction of what she actually does to her poor son.
I hope social services are involved as they need to be.
And thumping/ hitting, whalloping him becaue he told on her? Jesus, how is that not abusive?
Is it you OP?

RooneyMara Thu 29-Nov-12 10:57:32

Yes of course she is worried about SS.

That's her own bloody fault though.

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