Smacking ban ruled out

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ministers ruled out a complete ban on smacking today after a Government review found the majority of parents opposed such a move.

Children's Minister Kevin Brennan said the law would stay as it is after officials reviewed the way that new rules were working.

Despite calls from many organisations for a ban, Mr Brennan said the evidence was that fewer parents now use smacking to discipline their children.

In a statement to MPs, he said: "Whilst many parents say they will not smack, a majority of parents say that smacking should not be banned outright.

"The Government will retain the law in its current form, in the absence of evidence it is not working satisfactorily." Mr Brennan's announcement came after the Government conducted a review of the law, which changed in the 2004 Children's Act.

Section 58 of the Act removed the the defence of reasonable punishment from parents and adults acting "in loco parentis" who are charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, wounding or grievous bodily harm, or cruelty to a child.

At the time, ministers promised to review the law to assess whether it was working.

Officials surveyed parents, children and examined other evidence for the review, which took place this summer.

Mr Brennan said: "The review found that smacking is becoming a less commonly used form of discipline as more parents recognise that there are more effective and acceptable methods of disciplining children."

But he continued: "Many organisations however support legislation to ban smacking.

"The police have discretion to deal with cases as they consider appropriate, taking into account factors including the evidence available, the public interest and the best interests of the child.

"The law is clear and section 58 has improved protection for children.

"But there appears to be a lack of awareness across different audiences about the scope and application of the law.

"In response, the Government will retain the law in its current form, in the absence of evidence it is not working satisfactorily.

"We will also do more to help with positive parenting."

Comments