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Are we able to smack a child?

Is smacking a child acceptable in today’s world? What is considered Family Violence? What would you do if you become aware of Family Violence?

Let’s explore these questions.

Mum, Dad, and their three children have just moved into a new house. Mum is unpacking the kitchen; Dad is setting up the beds and the children are running wild with excitement.

One child has jumped on the glass table and dad has quickly pushed him off the table.

Is this family violence?

The child hits his head on the ground.

Do you consider this now family violence?

The child now has a concussion and is vomiting. He is taken to the hospital.

Is this now family violence?

The dad explains the events to the doctor, the doctor is required to report the events to Child Protection and the Police. The dad was charged with unlawful assault and an intervention order was put in place.

What else could the dad have done? Told the child to hop off the table or picked him up off the table.

This brings us back to the question, is smacking kids allowed?

In Australia we have-

  • laws that say we can’t hit adults
  • laws that we can’t hit animals
  • there are no laws about smacking children

There are laws already in countries of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark that have all made it illegal to smack a child. Is it time Australia takes the same stance? We have laws to protect children from excessive discipline, but what is that? We all see ‘excessive’ differently.

Family violence is an issue in the community. White Ribbon says ‘on average, one woman a week is killed by her intimate male partner’, and on average police attend a family violence incident every six minutes in Victoria.  In 30% of those cases a child was present at the incident. Family violence can be Emotional, Psychological, Financial, Sexual, and Physical Abuse.

If you become aware of this occurring to a colleague, friend, or family member there are resources that you can link them into-

Thank you to our guest speakers, that opened our eyes up to safety issues within our community-

  • Magistrate Simon Guthrie
  • Carla Sudholz- Court Register, Warrnambool Law Courts
  • Chris Asenjo- Detective Senior Sergeant, VicPol
  • Carolyn Howe- Specialist Family Violence Prosecutor, Victoria Police
  • Jodie Outtram- Alcohol and Other Drug Clinician, South West Healthcare


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