By Eeshan Jhingran
The issue of smacking a child is highly disputed amongst the general public. The debate on whether it is child abuse or not is a frequent topic over social media, and Q&As. One side argues that smacking a child harms their physical and mental growth. They argue that it should never be done and it is a human right abuse. However, the other side points out that parents know the difference between abuse and a simple smack. The pro-smacking side “bemoaned a lack of discipline,” they also said that it is like a circuit breaker that stops out-of-control behaviour. Both of these sides were shown in the opinion piece “Smacking is distinct from child abuse” by Cheryl Critchley, Herald Sun October 16th, 2009. Critchley’s contention dictates that parents who smack their children aren’t child abusers; they must enforce discipline, though Critchely herself doesn’t smack her children. Critchley does admit that it (smacking your child) is socially accepted. Throughout the article, she examines both views, but mostly the pro-smacking view, with many persuasive literary techniques such as expert opinion, anecdotal evidence, inclusive language, tone, repletion, loaded language and emotional language.
Critchley has used tone to show that it is ok to smack and positions her reader to be with her. Her arguments that incorporated tone included, ‘There is a hell of a difference between a tap on the bum with a hand or a wooden spoon and abuse.’ This has an emotional tone that forces the reader to realise ‘yes, there is a difference between abuse and smacking.’ She also used tone to level with a parent ‘sometimes it seems like the only way to get through to them.’ The tone in the second one had a hint of exasperation which all parents suffer when their child is being uncontrollable devil. This tone is very persuasive and makes readers who are anti-smackers open up to the other side of the argument. The other has cleverly used this technique to reinforce her contention.
The author has also used the opinion of the general public to show whether or not smacking a child is a suitable punishment that isn’t child abuse. Use of a famous TV presenter such as David Koch “He says it is wrong to do when emotional, but an out-of-control child might need a tap.” Koch is a very influential man and his statements, which support the contention of Critchley, would turn most heads of the general public in support of smacking. He also states that “smacking is very different to being abusive.” Apart from using the opinion of an influential person, Cheryl also stated “rightly or wrongly, more than 90% of Herald Sun readers yesterday agreed [that smacking is distinct from child abuse]. This statistic emphasizes the contention and further positions the reader to her side.
Cheryl has used inclusive language to say that the reader is a part of the issue. For instance, the writer said “If WE do smack, some accuse US of child abuse and being unable to control OUR kids.” And “if WE don’t, other see US as soft touches who let OUR kids rule the roost.” As one can see, Ms Critchley has continually used inclusive language to make her reader feel like they a part of the argument, basically her argument. The inclusive language was mostly used in the introduction and less later on, it was to hype the reader and make them feel like they are an integral part of the article. The rest of the article was used as examples and evidence to support her contention, but by this part, the reader is well and truly supporting her.
In conclusion, Ms Critchley has used informal language along with number of other techniques to persuade the reader and position them towards her contention and side of the argument. She has displayed both sides of the debate to make it seem fairer though she clamped down and barely showed much of the opposing side. Her use of anecdotes, tone, expert opinion inclusive, loaded and emotional language correctly positioned the reader in favour of her opinion.