Parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson said smacking should be illegal


Parenting expert blasts Aussie mums and dads who hit their kids as he urges the government to introduce a smacking ban: ‘We know it’s clearly linked to long term harm’

  • Parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson said smacking children should be illegal
  • He said parents should choose to teach their children instead of using ‘violence’ 
  • Adults who were smacked as children are more to suffer anxiety and depression
  • Data shows six in ten people aged 16 to 24 had been smacked at least four times 

A parenting expert called for smacking to be made illegal in Australia.

Dr Justin Coulson said new data from the Australian Catholic University (ACU) showed teenagers and adults who were smacked as children are twice as likely to suffer anxiety and depression.

Dr Coulson is one of Australia’s top parenting psychologists and the author of three best-selling parenting books.

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Dr Justin Coulson said smacking children is the same as 'hitting' an adult and called for physical punishment to b made illegal

Dr Justin Coulson said smacking children is the same as ‘hitting’ an adult and called for physical punishment to b made illegal

He believes the solution is for parents to step away from ‘violence’ and choose to teach their children to make good choices.

‘Parents continue to use violence against their children. Smacking is violence. I know that’s fairly provocative language. If we hit a child we are being violent,’ Dr Coulson told the Today Show.

He then explained that smacking or ‘hitting’ a child should be considered the same as hitting someone in the street, which is assault. 

When asked if smacking should be made illegal, Dr Coulson said: ‘I can’t believe we’re still having this debate, 62 countries around the world have made smacking illegal.’

A recent study by the Australian Catholic University found that people aged between 16 and 24 were twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety if they had been smacked a child

A recent study by the Australian Catholic University found that people aged between 16 and 24 were twice as likely to suffer from depression and anxiety if they had been smacked a child

‘This doesn’t mean we start getting parents in trouble and locking them up, it means… we will work with you to help you learn better ways to raise them, discipline, teach them well.’

Instead Dr Coulson believes children should be ’empowered’ through long-term teaching and supervision that slowly teaches them right from wrong.

‘Teaching takes a long time. It’s about skills, not a pill not a quick fix,’ he said.

In Australia it’s currently legal for parents to smack their kids but specific definitions of ‘reasonable’ punishment varying between states.

In NSW the physical punishment should not be painful for more than a brief moment, and kids can’t be hit on their heads or necks.

Dr Coulson said parents should choose to 'empower' their children through long-term teaching rather than 'quick-fix' smacking

Dr Coulson said parents should choose to ’empower’ their children through long-term teaching rather than ‘quick-fix’ smacking

In Victoria there is no legislation around parents smacking their kids.

The study by ACU found six in ten Australian aged between 16 and 24 had been smacked at least four times as a child.

ACU Professor and Director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies Daryl Higgins spoke to ABC Radio Melbourne on Thursday on why smacking to be outlawed.

‘It’s time to change the laws and to ensure that children are safe from violence in their home just as they are in childcare,’ he said. 

He later said children deserve equal protection from violence as adults.

‘If you want to reduce population level anxiety for women and men, don’t hit them as children. There is a very real connection between corporal punishment and current and lifelong experience of mental ill health,’ he told The Herald Sun.

‘The only benefit is immediate compliance but we know it’s clearly linked to long term harm.’

Sixty-two countries around the world have made physical punishment against children illegal including Scotland, Sweden, New Zealand and Korea.

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