Blair fights off attempt to ban smacking of children

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair yesterday rejected demands from two Parliamentary inquiries to ban parents from smacking their children. The Lords and Commons Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Health Select Committee said yesterday that hitting children should be outlawed because it infringed human rights and could lead to serious abuse.

But the Prime Minister said the Government would leave it to parents to decide how to bring up their children. "The Government believes most parents understand there is a clear and fundamental difference between discipline and abuse and know where the line lies between them," the Prime Minister's official spokesman said. "We do not believe criminalising parents is the right way to go about this. We do believe parents have a common-sense understanding in this area."

A coalition of 350 organisations working with children had urged the Government to take action. Claire Rayner, the agony aunt and spokesperson for the Children Are Unbeatable Alliance, said hitting children "had no place in a modern and fair society", adding: "Hitting children is wrong and the law should say so in the interests of children's rights."

A MORI survey of 100 MPs for the child protection charity the NSPCC showed most Labour MPs would back a smacking ban. More than 80 per cent said physical punishment could lead to physical abuse.

The report by the Commons health select committee into the failures which led to the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie said "reasonable chastisement" of a child should no longer be permitted. The MPs found her injuries began with "little slaps" and escalated into serious assault and murder.