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Domestic CP - June 2004
Daily Telegraph online, London, 23 June 2004
Your views: Should the Government ban smacking?
News that the House of Lords could ban parents from smacking their children was not welcomed by our readers.
Many of you e-mailed us about the issue and almost everyone agreed that smacking should not be banned.
Most felt that a light tap was often the only way to control very small children and that, rather than damaging children, it was an effective part of a loving parent-child relationship.
Some readers argued that the absence of corporal punishment in schools had contributed to a decline in social behaviour since the 1960s and that a ban on smacking would make matters worse.
In any case, many of you felt, a smacking ban would not prevent child abuse since those who abuse their children will do so regardless of the law. Such a law was also likely to be unenforceable, according to many readers.
These are a selection of your comments on the issue:
As a child belongs to its parents, only they should have the right to decide how their child is punished, as opposed to the Government. I would have thought the issues of national education, health and prison reform would be more than enough to keep them occupied without interfering in individuals' lives. Isabella Woods
For a child to grow up knowing there will be no retribution will cause havoc. If an alternative is named, for example, stopping pocket money, many more children would simply steal, often off pensioners. C A Braines
Exactly what constitutes a smack? A tap on the hand to let a toddler know not to stick its fingers into an electric socket? A playful pat on the bum? In my opinion it will not be enforceable. I freely admit that a carefully placed, short, sharp, single tap is part of my repertoire of disciplinary actions for my children. In my opinion, there are far more barbaric and harmful, non-physical ways of disciplining children. Melanie Wells
There is a difference between smacking and beating. Beating is very unnecessary but smacking goes hand in hand with respect and discipline - vital in the upbringing of a child. P H Burbage. France
For most parents discipline is achieved through firm talk, fair rules and fair warnings. However these have to be backed up with fair punishment if they are not heeded. That has to be something that is directly associated with the disobedience (and you should never punish for ignorance or error), but which allows a fresh start immediately afterwards. Mike Adams
This is another case of the nanny state's intrusiveness into the private household. Smacking or the use of a hand to reprimand a child is a key form of discipline to ensure the future well being of that child. The state has no place interfering here. Mark Stewart, Switzerland
Once again, the 'we know best' attitude of the smug Guardian-reading, moralising classes is demonstrated by this latest daft proposal to ban parents from smacking their children. How do these clowns imagine such a law could be enforced? Perhaps by encouraging children to inform on their parents? Derek Armstrong, Biggleswade
My wife and I would certainly take no notice of such a ban and I am sure that I speak for the majority of parents on this. To compare a slap on the hand or a smack on the backside to what Victoria Cimbie had to suffer is ludicrous. Enough said. Tom Allen
I fail to see how prosecuting caring parents for disciplining their children will prevent child abuse. Child abusers do not care whether what they are doing is illegal or not. Putting parents in jail will only put a further burden on society, strain family relationships, cause financial hardship and cause psychological problems for the children involved. Anne McCormick, Wirral
Chastisement of a child is and should be the loving parent's responsibility. Noone in their right mind advocates beating a child - a term which is often implied in this argument and used interchangeably with smacking. Let wisdom prevail - a loving parent will protect their child - don't let the state impose a nonsensical, EU-generated ruling that interferes with parenting. John Langton
Victoria Climbe was clearly enduring 'unreasonable chastisement' - hence no new law on smacking would have protected her. It was the contribution of social services in failing to coordinate their responses that allowed the situation to get out of hand. Which is worse, one reasonable smack or imprisonment for a 'guilty' parent with no one to look after child? Neil Ashworth
The present unruly state of the nation's youth is, in part, a direct result of parents not controlling and punishing their children properly. Admittedly, there is a fine line between a smack on the legs or backside with the hand and more violent forms of chastisement, but lack of parental discipline has resulted in today's children thinking they can get away with all manner of misbehaviour with impunity. David Snowdon
I see it every time I go out: harassed parents trying not to look like monsters for simply applying a short, sharp shock exactly when and where it is needed. The kids know it and taunt their parents saying that there is nothing that they can do. Certain celebrities may have ample time and staff to deal with the situation in a reasoned fashion but the average parent does not. Smacking worked for my son and it worked for myself and my siblings. Mrs Rose, Wisbech
The government should ban smacking because it is psychologically damaging to children and because we want a society in which it is unacceptable to use violence as a coercive force against other individuals. If the police are (rightly) not allowed to beat suspects, husbands are (rightly) not allowed to hit their wives, and parents are (rightly) not allowed to hit other people's children, why should parents (wrongly) be permitted to hit their own children? Bob Taylor, Germany
My view is that disciplining children, whether it be by smacking or any other way, is nothing to do with the Government or any pressure group. Abuse and cruelty to children are a different matter and are of course of concern to the authorities and other organisations. The Government should not buckle to pressure groups who have their own agenda and are not representative of parents as a whole. R Thomson, Sheffield
I believe [smacking] teaches children that there are consequences for their actions. My child knows he must not run across the road. He must wait for me or his mother and hold our hand as he crosses. If he does not, he is smacked. There is no negotiation. I do not seek to convince him of the rightness of this rule. He does not have to weigh up whether ignoring it is worth losing some privilege. The consequences are clear and immediate. Shaun O'Kane, London
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