BORDER church leaders fear laws against smacking children will lead to a generation with no respect for authority.
They say legislation that would stop people physically disciplining children won’t prevent serious child abuse but, instead, punish well-meaning parents.
Their comments come after the Presbyterian Church warned that Victoria’s human rights charter, which is under review, could be used to stop parents using corporal punishment.
Pastor Rick Zylstra, from the Presbyterian Reformed Church at Wangaratta, said he was concerned young people would grow up without a proper understanding of responsibility.
“You see a lot of Generation-Ys coming though that haven’t got a lot of respect for authority because their parents haven’t wanted to discipline them,” he said.
Mr Zylstra, a father of four boys under seven, said he would occasionally smack his children when they did the wrong thing, even though it was not something he liked doing.
“As a dad, the easy thing is to ignore the things they do wrong,” Mr Zylstra said, “but I don’t because I’m concerned about how they grow up and because you want to shape them into adults who will respect authority and become good members of society.”
Church of God pastor at Lavington, Phil Morton, said legislation against smacking children would not stop violent assaults against young people.
Instead, Mr Morton said it would mean more work for law enforcers, including already overburdened police officers and court staff.
He said he had been smacked as a boy and had also dealt out the occasional slap to his own children when they were growing up, but only as a last resort.
“It comes to the point of a child understanding boundaries and if they pass those boundaries, they get a slap,” he said.
“A child shouldn’t have any more rights than the parent.”
Father Dennis Crameri, of Wodonga’s Catholic Sacred Heart Church, said while he was not aware of the finer details of the issue, he would be wary of moves to legislate how people brought up children.