I was wrong, says video smacker

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A businessman who developed a video promoting smacking children with a leather strap today abandoned his plans, saying: "I was way off the mark."

Philip Holdway-Davis told PA News he would "go back to the drawing-board" after a barrage of criticism from children's right groups. The 37-year- old insurance broker, living in Hamilton, New Zealand, had wanted to sell the 9-in "Safe Smacker" strap with his video, the "Safe Smack Parenting Programme".

It advised that a child of seven could be struck with the red leather strap up to 30 times a day, and was based on sound research, he had maintained.

But after the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children condemned the video for "legitimising violence against children", he admitted he had got it wrong.

"I was completely out of touch with public opinion and I'm really sorry if I've upset people," he said.

Mr Holdway-Davis, originally from south London, who invested pounds 12,000 of his own money in the product, had planned to sell it in the UK by mail order. "I have always been interested in parenting issues and I felt I had a lot of useful advice and research which could help people."

But, he agreed, "The psychology was all wrong. I was only advocating light smacking, but I can see now some people could use too much force."

Now Mr Holdway-Davis plans to rework his material to produce programmes based on gentler forms of child control.

"Verbal warning, loss of privileges, isolation for bad behaviour, rewards for good, are all good methods which I wanted to share with people." He admitted having used a strap on his sons, aged two, five and seven, and said, "I still feel that a little smack can be right in certain circumstances."