Milburn urged to alter law allowing smacking

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Indy Politics

A group of public figures called on the Government yesterday to scrap a law which it claims gives parents licence to use violence against their children and escape conviction.

In an open letter to the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Milburn, 14 child safety campaigners called for thelaw allowing parents to use "reasonable chastisement'' to be changed. Signatories included the agony aunt Claire Rayner, the childcare author Dr Miriam Stoppard, the Independent columnist David Aaronovitch and the editor of The Observer, Roger Alton. The letter said: "The law should protect children from assault. We believe the majority of parents would be prepared to give up their 'right' to hit their children to help protect those who suffer in this way. It would not lead to parents being prosecuted for trivial smacks."

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said: "The Government is out of step with professional opinion, the public mood and the emerging European consensus on this issue."