The Pope is right – smacking your kids is sometimes OK

One good thing has come out of the fuss over the pope’s comments about it being ok to smack your children (so long as their dignity is maintained); it has flushed out the former Irish president, Mary McAleese, as tiresomely conventional in much the same way as her predecessor, Mary Robinson – the very incarnation of PC.

Shame, because I’d been a fan until I read her letter to the Irish Times on Saturday criticising the pope for his remarks, on the basis that they’re at odds with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which, apparently, has zero tolerance when it comes to corporal punishment.

Actually, make that two benefits to flow from the row.

I hadn’t even heard about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child until she brought it up and if I hadn’t realised it was so preposterous, I’d probably have been instinctively in favour of it – well, who’s against the Rights of the Child?

Anyway, McAleese feels that the Vatican’s commitment to this particular UN Convention is now in doubt.

Another critic is Peter Saunders, a former victim of clerical sexual abuse  – I’m a bit tired of the term ‘survivor’ in this context – who is a member of the Vatican’s commission on stopping the molestation of minors.

Saunders, also head of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, says he was hit and ‘it did me a lot of harm’.

Well maybe, but there’s a spectrum here, isn’t there, between smacking a toddler for playing with matches to the modus operandi favoured by so many Irish fathers a generation ago, viz, whacking children with a belt.

Personally, I’m rubbish at corporal punishment. Continue reading

Melanie McDonagh is a leaderwriter for the Evening Standard and Spectator contributor. Irish, living in London.

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