Stephan Friedrich gets set to walk into the cage before one of his fights.
Stephan Friedrich gets set to walk into the cage before one of his fights. Joshua Stebbings

LISTEN: Smacking children does harm says trauma specialist

A CHILD trauma specialist has reached out to offer his views on the debate of smacking children following a recent story on the topic in the Daily Mercury.

Stephan Friedrich is the CEO of Knightlamp a company dedicated to the healing care of people living with childhood trauma.

"My area of expertise is in developmental trauma. I work to advise parents, teachers and psychologists," he said.

Mr Friedrich's academic research is focused on complex trauma and ethical challenges in therapeutic statutory practice.

He is also the author of How to Tuck a Gangster into Bed and Other Short Stories, a book on trauma informed practice with children.

"To answer the question asked, ( to smack or not to smack) it can be as simple as saying the science gives us the answer," he said.

"That answer is not to smack your child. At the very least it will be pointless, there is no benefit,

"At the worst it will actually do harm depending on how extreme it is."

Mr Friedrich said he was often told by parents, "We can't always be perfect, we lose it sometimes".

"This basically means you lost control as a parent," he said.

Smacking was only effective for controlling a child,"Anybody can control another person with fear and pain and the threat of pain."

Smacking children affects brain development, according to Mr Friedrich.

"Children are developmentally vulnerable. Most of the brain's development happens in early childhood," he said.

"This is when most smacking happens."

Mr Friedrich believes parenting shouldn't be about control of your child.

"Yes, pain or fear can control a child but it doesn't promote development," he said.

"However, parenting isn't about controlling in the moment, it's about developing a good human being."

Do you smack your children?

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Away from his work with developmental trauma Mr Friedrich competes as mixed martial artist.

"People often say hold on, you fight and punch people, how are you against smacking kids?" he said.

"I say, 'Yes, but I don't punch my children to discipline them. I engage in sport'."

Quite often people say they got smacked as children and they are fine but Mr Friedrich is not convinced by these statements.

Mr Friedrich believes the moment when you smack a child, you are affecting their development.

"It develops violent tendencies, limits their ability to learn and causes anxiety," he said.

"Most importantly it affects their self worth; it leads to them failing because they don't believe they can succeed in life."

Mr Friedrich asked the question, "If anyone other than you hurt your child, would you be ok with it?"

"The answer is no," he said.

"For some reason they think it's a different effect when they do it as a parent, but it isn't.

"Most people who defend smacking don't have good emotional regulation and got smacked as kids." Mr Friedrich said.