Slap, slap, slap.
It’s a funny word.
It can just as equally conjure a comic kipper slap or Tango Man, as much as a moment of discomforting supermarket abuse. It carries a flippancy. Not as severe or significant as hit or punch; it is transient. Bam! Anger – action – next…
It was announced today that Scotland plans to ban slapping.
People I imagine will interpret this depending on their political and philosophical leanings – either; ‘Fantastic’ – ‘Why would anyone use violence as a means of communication or control in the 21st Century?’ Or, ‘Bleh, nanny state, thank goodness I live in England!’*
Is there ever a situation when it is OK to hit another person, particularly, someone younger and weaker? Isn’t the size differential enough? Is your vocabulary or emotional formulary inadequate to convey your feelings?
In his book ‘The Slap’ Christos Tsiolkas describes the events following an altercation at a children’s party in Australia. I mean – surely, anyone, if pushed far enough would snap, strike-out, respond to provocation? Isn’t this something inherent? Are some more prone to impulse than others?
‘I’m sorry your honour, I killed him on impulse, my responsibility was diminished.’
Sure, slapping can play a part in a complex game of psychological warfare between parents and children, a relationship of escalation where each are pushed towards the precipice, a game of familial chicken. And we have all seen it happen.
I guess, and I hope, and I believe, knowing the Scottish Government, with our heroine Nicola at the helm, this will not be interpreted simplistically. You can’t just ban slapping and imagine that all will be well – for, there are always more forms of subtle abuse and psychological punishment at the disposal of those with enough time and imagination.
No, what is needed is support.
Support for those families rich and poor, educated or not, who find themselves in situations where the only response to a misbehaving child is, slap.
We need to understand, to help, look at the stressors underpinning the behaviour, prevention rather than cure in the case of poverty, emotional exposition in the case of raw anger
All of this is surely a drift upwards, an evolution of society towards better things, not a nanny protectionism, it is accretion towards something better.
And I celebrate the law!