Blair is sorry for spanking children

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The Independent Online
Tony Blair, the Labour leader, - in an interview bound to reignite the debate about physical punishment of children - has admitted smacking his children, but said he did not believe it was the best form of discipline.

Mr Blair, who has three children - Euan, 12, Nicholas, 10, and Kathryn, eight - said: "When they were little I smacked them occasionally if they were really naughty or did something nasty to another child. "But I always regretted it because there are lots of ways of disciplining a child, and I don't believe that belting them is the best one."

He was rebuked by agony aunt Claire Raynerwho said: "Smacking is humiliating and it destroys a child's self-esteem, and a child without self-esteem will have no esteem for others. The children who are the most unmannerly, brutal and unkind are those who were hit a lot."

She went on: "I am just pleased that Mr Blair realised he was wrong and regretted it after he hit his children."

In a Parents magazine interview, Mr Blair repeated his view that parents should discipline children, but said: "There is a clear dividing line between administering discipline on the one hand and violence on the other."

Mr Blair was beaten by a prefect, and caned by his housemaster at the age of 16 at Fettes College, the Edinburgh boarding school. He has said: "It probably did me no harm."