French Parents Now Banned From Spanking Their Kids

by Mike Julianelle
Image via Shutterstock

France just made it illegal to spank your kids

Joining 51 other countries around the world, France has gone ahead and banned corporal punishment against children, making it illegal to smack any little bebes on the butt when they refuse to eat their baguettes.

We’re kind of surprised it took them this long.

French parents are often held up as among the best in the world, and not merely because they let their kids drink. Add another notch to their useless-when-comes-to-discipline belts, because the French have outlawed spanking.

Babble has the details of the country’s new Equality and Citizenship Bill, which attempts to end violence against children by banning “any cruel, degrading, or humiliating treatment, including corporal punishment.”

The spanking debate continues to rage in the United States, despite studies like this one, from June 2016, and this one, both of which detail the adverse long-term effects of the practice. But people like having the right to parent their children however they seem fit, which makes a law like this a dicey proposition here. Despite its probable benefits.

It seems pretty clear that though a good spanking might have an immediate effect, it’s probably not a healthy thing for anyone in the long run. It’s bad for the kid, because it messes them up in all manner of ways, and it’s bad for the parents, because a messed-up kid is harder to discipline later. Especially once you’ve already deployed the nuclear option.

I got spanked as a kid, and I turned out fine (the opinions of Trump supporters notwithstanding). But to be totally honest, it’s not the spanking I remember, it’s the threat of spanking. Fear is a better motivator than pain. Not that either is an ideal parenting tactic but you do what you gotta do to survive so I forgive you, Mom and Dad.

Of course, now that I’m a parent myself, I’m occasionally tempted to introduce my palm to one of my kid’s butts, but that’s mostly because time-outs are useless and 1-2-3 magic is useless and everything is useless and I’m often at the end of my rope. But I’ve never hit my kids. Something about it just seems wrong. And the research seems to bear that out.

I’m not so sure I consider all spanking child abuse, but I understand the impulse of these countries to draw a firm line in the sand. And when you hear about schools that continue to use physical punishment – American schools, as recently as 2014, according to a study that documented more than 100,000 such cases – you start to realize that maybe the United States might benefit our kids too. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that anyone is gonna it our kids, it’s gonna be us!

In a perfect world, no one would be hitting children, moms and dads included. And don’t worry, if we do follow France’s lead, we don’t have to credit them with the idea. We can just call the law “Freedom Spanking” or something.