Leading article: Smacking should be banned

Share
Related Topics

Britain's children enjoy less physical protection under the law than prisoners. No one has the right to subject a jail inmate to assault. Yet parents are allowed to assault their offspring with impunity – by smacking them. This is a disgraceful anomaly, and tomorrow the House of Commons has an opportunity to rectify it.

The current position, the subject of fierce debate before it was cast into statute in 2004, allows parents to administer "reasonable punishment""to children – the legal equivalent of common assault. At the time, Tony Blair's government acknowledged that violence had no place in good parenting but refused to give children legal protection from spanking.

This position is now subject to a motion from MPs from all three main political parties, who are calling for the repeal of Section 58 of the Children Act. Emboldened by a United Nations report last week urging our government, yet again, to prohibit corporal punishment within the family, a further 111 Labour MPs have written to the Prime Minister demanding a free vote on the issue. Their stand is commendable and the Government must allow it, even if it does not support them.

The smacking of children is a highly emotive issue, and many otherwise good parents baulk at what they see as the state interfering with their right to bring up their children as they see fit. But the experience of the 19 European states which have already adopted similar legislation is not of the regular and unreasonable prosecution of parents – nor would it be in this country. The assault of children would be treated just like the assault of adults using the principle of de minimus – prosecutions are not brought in those cases that are considered trivial.

Nor is this is a question of the "nanny state". After all, what use is a nanny who does not censure violence towards children? Study after study has shown that a child's behaviour is never improved by violence in the family. The Government, so often too eager to legislate itself into our phones and computers, personal habits and private lives, has procrastinated on this issue too long. The Commons could rectify this tomorrow, and the chance should on no account be missed.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

 

Political satire is funny, but it also causes cynicism and apathy

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
The super-rich now live in their own Elysium - they breathe better air, and eat better food, when they're not making beans on toast for their kids

The super-rich now live in their own Elysium

They breathe better air, eat better food, take better medicine
A generation of dropouts failed by colleges

Dropout generation failed by colleges

£800m a year wasted on students who quit courses before they graduate
Entering civilian life 'can be like going into the jungle' for returning soldiers

Homeless Veterans appeal

Entering civilian life can be like going into the jungle
Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Sam Taylor-Johnson: Woman on top

Fifty Shades of Grey director on bringing the hit to the screen
Shazam! Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

Shazam: Story of the $1bn 'what's that song?' app

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch