​Should It Be Illegal For Parents To Smack Their Children?

​Should It Be Illegal For Parents To Smack Their Children?

It can't have escaped your notice that calls are being made to make it illegal for parents in Britain to smack their children.

The Express reports:

Britain's child commissioners are lobbying the United Nations for a ban on parents smacking their own children, despite the current law in England permitting "reasonable chastisement" towards their children.

The Mailadds:

UN committee members will review the way Britain has respected the rights of children over the past eight years and a delegation from the UK will be grilled by a panel in Geneva during a two-day hearing.

Child commissioners from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have submitted a report calling for a review of 114 issues in total, including smacking and the criminal age of responsibility.

The report asserts that children should have "equal protection from violence" under the law, but this has sparked some debate among parents. Some question whether the decision of British parents to smack their children is an appropriate issue for the UN to address - the old 'Nanny State' argument has been wheeled out - and others argue that such a decision ought to ultimately rest with individual parents.

I don't mind admitting that this is a topic which I'm usually loathe to be drawn on, not least because it's so emotive and highly personal. That said, I have smacked my children in the past and yet I am firmly of the opinion that children should not be smacked. I can see why that might get me labelled a hypocrite but actually it's more that I've learned from my past mistakes.

Having grown up in a culture where being smacked was the norm for most kids, I found myself - like countless other parents before me - sometimes smacking my own children when clutching at straws for an effective way to discipline them.

But smacking my kids appalled me - I felt I'd broken their trust and let us all down. What's more, I think smacking is utterly useless as a form of discipline. It's highly ineffective, in my view, and only seems to escalate the issue that first led you to smack. I've since learned better methods of dealing with challenging behaviour, thank goodness.

So on balance and more than a decade into parenting I'm wholeheartedly 'for' a smacking ban. Why? Because I think if there'd been one in place when I'd resorted to smacking my own children, I might have been spared learning those lessons the hard way - and, more importantly, my kids might have been spared those smacks which I instantly regretted.

Currently the law in England and Wales does not ban smacking and states that parents may use "reasonable chastisement" - but criminal charges can be applied if a child is hit so hard that it leaves a mark.

If smacking were illegal, parents like me who perhaps flounder and find themselves resorting to smacking when struggling to deal with difficult behaviour would be forced to find other ways to discipline kids, and that can only be a good thing. The current law leaves the decision in the hands of parents and I know from experience that you don't always think straight when you're struggling to parent well.

Along with a ban on smacking, I'd like to see more resources made available for parents who smack, outlining other ways of dealing with discipline issues as a parent.

Thankfully our smacking days are far behind us and my kids understand that it's not a parenting approach I ever intend to use again. I just wish the law had been there to prevent us from ever going down that route in the first place.

But we'd like to hear your views on this debate - do you think smacking should be illegal? Leave us a comment below, join our poll on smacking, or come and join the debate over on our Facebook page.

You can click here to download the NSPCC's brilliant guide to positive parenting, including how to deal with difficult behaviour without smacking.


Reply to
  • Jahu

    Smacking shouldn't be done hastily in the moment, when the parent is angry. It should be done when the parent is in a calm place, and it should be explained to the child what he/she has done wrong, and why a smack is necessary.

    If you are venting your anger through smacking, this is indeed tantamount to child abuse.

    A smack should be delivered in love, that loving parental desire for the child to do right. If it doesn't hurt you to administer a smack (obviously not physically) then something is wrong!

    You might not believe it now, but your child will most likely thank you in later life for disciplining them, but it must be in love!

    • Jahu

      If a smack is for the parent to vent their anger, this is totally wrong. If it is done when the parent is calm an in parental love, that desires for the child to do right, then it is a good thing.

      It is important that the child understands why they are receiving the smack, that they are loved, but they have done wrong. It should hurt the parent more to administer the smack ( obviously not physically)

      • PushingZedzzzzz

        F.A.O JAHU, Parents do not hit their children out of parental love, who are you kidding, that is truly warped. I should stop smacking your child if i were you and find a more positive approach, because one day he/she will be bigger than you and i would hate to be you on that day. Smacking is wrong and trying to justify it by calling it parental love is a guilty conscience. (Also included in my main comment)

      • TommyC

        Let parents be parents and let them do things their own way. Advising someone not to smack and give them alternatives is what they should be suggesting. Not making the thing illegal. Totally pathetic to suggest this, aside from the fact its completely unenforceable. 

        • SUD84

          It can give you a sense of authority a slight smacking. as today in this PC world there is no discipline in a child therefore uncontrollably children. Parents that say oh I never smack my child you probably are verbally abusing them. What is smacking? A smack on the bottom or a slap on the hand. With controlled force. People confuse this by stating kicking, punching etc well that is called physical abuse there's a difference. I personally feel parents should be able to disipline their child and shouldn't be up to the nation to decide. On top of that once the government takes that away from the parents, you're going to have un ruling children. Where's the punishment ? Care homes, ASBO, detention centres all because the rights are taken away from parents. Ultimately when they play truant from school parents face a fine or imprisionment. people will be too scared to have kids in the future. Parents that have good luck . 

          • PushingZedzzzzz

            YES IT SHOULD BE BANNED. People who smack their children clearly need anger management and serious help. These people obviously fail to see that it is a cruel act of bullying and a breach of their child's trust. It teaches children no positive lesson, the only things it does is teach them is that - 1) they should be frightened of those that are supposed to love & protect them, 2) to learn to be secretive and learn to become better liars to prevent from getting hit again and 3) hitting people will make them feel powerful just like it does for mummy and daddy. Because lets face it that's why parents do it, to feel power over their defenseless children, and to relieve their anger. 

            Buy a stress ball and get therapy, stop abusing your children and stop trying to justify it by trying to call it a "warning" or "discipline" or "parental love".

            Questions for the people who seem to think its is acceptable to hit children

            Did you get hit/smacked as a child? 

            Did you ever get hit a second time? if so you have proved that smacking does not work, as you pissed off your parents again enough to get a second helping of their cruelty.

            F,A,O EMMA R, please can you define firm? who sets the limit? people don't know their own strength especially when angry. People experience pain differently and have different levels of sensory processing, so when you think your hitting a child lightly they maybe processing the pain as severe. Also think about it, if a 20 stone guy hit/smacked you lightly (in his opinion), it would bloody hurt and it would not feel like a light smack/hit to you, now look at an adults strength when hitting/smacking a child, you are going to hurt the child and you do so knowing you weigh more and are much bigger and stronger than the child is.

            F.A.O JAHU, Parents do not hit their children out of parental love, who are you kidding, that is truly warped. I should stop smacking your child if i were you and find a more positive approach, because one day he/she will be bigger than you and i would hate to be you on that day. Smacking is wrong and trying to justify it by calling it parental love is a guilty conscience.  

            • sarahg

              absolutely agree Pushingzedzzzzz there should be no place in society for an adult to hit a child. If a parent cannot discipline/ punish/guide their child without resorting to violence then quite frankly they don't deserve to be a parent. 

              • Mumofthree

                I'm shocked at the peoples comments that state anyone that says smacking shouldn't be banned is a child abuser!! I was smacked as a child as a former of discipline. I did not suffer, my parents were not abusers they were and still are the best parents I could have ever asked for and I would have never treated them as a terribly as a lot of children treat adults nowadays. Why because I learned respect. Unfortunately this softly softly approach means youngsters no longer have respect for their elders. I have 3 beautiful children who are bright intelligent examplry girls & I'm not saying I would smack them willy nilly but if it were to happen that they behaved extremely unacceptably and I believed it warranted a smack surely that's my call and doesn't therefore make me a child abuser.

                Narrow minded people that like to make out they are live a perfect little life & do not face stressful times with their children. Personally I'd prefer to admit I'm not perfect but do my very best.

                • londonderrry

                  I appreciate that people have differences of opinion on the subject, but what I find MOST disturbing is that many of those who disagree with reasonable smacking actually want to "outlaw it." Think about what you are suggesting. If a parent uses a reasonable smack once in a while to teach their children right from wrong, you want social services and the police to intervene and possibly take away children from their parents. That's pretty radical and quite close minded. Don't make your "preferences" legally binding on everyone else. There is already plenty of laws against child abuse, all this is going to do is to make parents who use reasonable smacking criminals. Shame on you.