|www.corpun.com : Archive : 1997 : UK Domestic Oct 1997|
Corpun file 1694 at www.corpun.com
BBC News Online, 30 October 1997
Outcry over 'safe smacking' video
Plans to sell a video showing parents how to smack their children using a nine-inch red strap have created a furore in Britain.
The video is the brainchild of New Zealand businessman Philip Holdway-Davis, 37, who has invested £12,000 of his own money in the product.
He planned to sell it to the UK by mail order, but he told the BBC he would have to seek expert advice before it was released following the outcry from children's groups, Members of Parliament and parents.
The red leather "Safe Smacker" was to be sold with the video, which explains when and how a child should be punished.
One scene in the video shows a mother holding a child's hands down, while the father prepares to administer the smacking.
The video says a child of seven can be struck with the red leather strap up to 30 times a day. It talks about physical punishment only as a last resort and to be delivered with affection.
Video should be banned
Robin Corbett, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, called for the video and strap to be banned. "This is a dangerous sickness. It runs the very real risk of encouraging child abuse," he said.
The video was also attacked by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Director Jim Harding said: "The NSPCC condemns the use of implements in any punishment of children.
"Physical harm can be caused and such punishments only legitimise violence against children as acceptable behaviour."
Difference between hitting and safe smacking
But Mr Holdway-Davis defended the video in an interview with the BBC.
"It's very, very defined...It's a very light instrument and it's only in certain circumstances," he said.
"Because it's so controlled, so well worked out, that parents aren't in danger of abusing their children."
Parents allowed gentle smack
Under English law, striking anyone with an implement would normally be considered a form of assault.
However, under the Children and Young Person's Act 1933, parents are exempted to carry out corporal punishment so long as it is "reasonable chastisement."
A spokesman for the Department of Health added: "Parents have the right to carry out reasonable chastisement on children."
"It is for parents to decide whether to use a gentle smack as a quick and effective way of dealing with bad behaviour."
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