Activism, Parenting

Dear the Pope: There is no need to smack children, ever.

9 February, 2015

***I’ve just sent this letter off to the Pope (His Holiness, 00120 Via del Pellegrino, Citta del Vaticano) and thought I’d copy it onto the blogdiggidy in case any of you fancied letting him know about how real and possible a violence free family life can be. It lacks my usual absurd banter because, like, this dude is the MONK BOSS. His holy eyes don’t want to read my driftless jesting and made up words***

Dear Pope Francis

I want to paint you a picture of how some families live, because I have the impression that you think hitting children is normal – and that avoiding hitting them on the face is a step forward.

I believe a better (and more biblical) vision for you to cast would be one where all children can live a childhood free from harm at the hands of their parents.

It is a vision becoming tangible in some places.

There are millions of children growing up who have never experienced violence from the people entrusted with their lives. And they are growing into good and kind adults.

We have discovered that children can thrive through their early years and become upright citizens without ever feeling the harsh slap of a hand upon their bodies. We can resolve conflict peacefully, using words and not fists to work through difficulties. We find creative solutions to family problems; we dig deeper into connecting with our children when they are expressing a need we find tricky.

We hope for a kinder world, and know that the best thing we can do to achieve this is to treat our children kindly, and with understanding, rather than with physical punishment.

We use our role as parents to protect the human rights of our children – the right to be safe, to be free from violence. Research shows that children who are smacked are more likely to exhibit criminal and delinquent behaviour later on, and have their mental health destroyed.

Children have the right to dignity, which you correctly recognized. Simply hitting a child on the body instead of the face doesn’t defend dignity. Dignity is defended when parents treat their children with compassion, gently guiding them through the ins and outs of living together, when we speak to them, and treat them, as we would want to be treated.

Shame, manipulation, punishment and violence- every one of these strips our children of dignity, and corrodes their sense of being unconditionally loved.

Some of us have found a way to live in harmony with our children. We believe it is possible for all families to find this way.

Another world is possible, Pope Francis. And your role, as a representative of one of the world’s dominant religions, as someone whose words are reordered and aired throughout the whole globe, is to herald it in.

Please, publically defend the rights of children as you have begun to with other minorities. They are a people group that deserve to experience fairness and safety and kindness, just like every human on earth.

Yours truly,


Dear Pope Francis

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  • ThaliaKR 9 February, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Great work, Lucy! Let us know what response you get…

  • Tiffany 9 February, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    He’s been such a great progressive pope but you’re right he really fell down here. I think seriously, Jesus would agree, and if he can get behind the science of global warming he can get behind the science here too.

  • estelle blake 9 February, 2015 at 11:44 pm

    wise words and thanks

  • Alex 9 February, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Well done Lucy, for taking on the holy popiness! I particularly love that the letter is written in a peaceful way (especially considering how frustrated the pope’s statement can make one feel). thereby positively modeling what the request is about. Peace! 🙂

  • Dear the Pope: There is no need to smack children, ever. | LAB 10 February, 2015 at 1:03 am

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  • Laura 10 February, 2015 at 1:05 am

    This is a fantastic letter. Thank you for writing it. As a catholic and a fan of Pope Francis, I was so very disappointed to read his comments encouraging smacking. Part of me is still hoping that he was misquoted or that his words were taken out of context. However, I’ve read articles that talk of his comments being a product of the culture he was brought up in. I really struggle with Christians who believe in smacking. “Whatsoever you do to the littlest of these, you do to me,” said Jesus.

  • Marta 10 February, 2015 at 1:08 am

    Thank you so much for standing up for all the beautiful, lovely, kind children of the world. I also do believe that, if he gets to read this, the pope will consider and learn from your wise and experienced words. He has proved to be in the front line for many issues that used to be taboo for his church. And that makes this letter even more special and important. Who knows, it can change a master’s point of view and his crew… (just hoping…)….
    I will take your exemple and write him too.

  • Robin Grille 10 February, 2015 at 5:20 am

    His “holiness” just invented a new category: ‘dignified violence’. This is why people are leaving the church. People are growing up and the church is not growing with them. Good on you for sending him your wake-up call.

  • Letitia 10 February, 2015 at 8:02 am

    This is a great letter, and I hope he finds it eye-opening 🙂

  • TLD 10 February, 2015 at 10:36 am

    I just don’t know how anyone reconciles spanking especially if they are against domestic violence. It’s assault. We even have laws against hitting animals. It is a hard thing for some to accept that they are exercising physical aggression on the person they love the most and they can’t accept that it is wrong. Even if it would be absurd or horrifying to say things like, “My boss spanked me because I was late,” or “My husband/wife hit me because I deserved it.” or “My neighbor hit me because I wasn’t listening and hurled insults.”

  • Julie 10 February, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you for reminding the Pope, and me, what we should be aiming for. x

  • ali 11 February, 2015 at 9:36 am

    As someone who specialises in the affect of familial abuse on children I find it totally and utterly amazing that hitting a child can still be considered acceptable. its (now) widely accepted that within a family set up, hitting another adult is considered abuse. We are able to provide support for the adults involved, both victims and perpetrators (if they seek help to change their behaviour).
    So why, why, why is it still not so much of a big deal for a significant adult to use physical violence against a small, vulnerable human. Its just not OK. At all. Ever.