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Domestic CP - September 2006
The Times, London, 20 September 2006
Majority of parents admit to smacking children
By Rosemary Bennett
SEVEN out of ten parents smack their children and would strongly resist any move to ban corporal punishment in the home, according to a poll.
And in the population at large, the survey uncovered even greater support for parents' right to smack. Eighty per cent said that they believed in smacking, while 73 per cent said that they believed a ban would lead to a sharp deterioration in children's behaviour.
The picture of Britain as a nation of enthusiastic smackers will alarm children's charities. Barnardo's, Save the Children and other charities are campaigning for a total ban. Sir Al Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner, said that he intended to make a ban on smacking a priority of his post.
The experts argue that children are the only group who can be assaulted legally. However, the poll suggests that they are out of step with parents. The findings will be seized on by ministers who have said that they will not legislate to ban smacking.
The poll was commissioned for an ITV1 documentary, I Smack and I'm Proud, to be broadcast tomorrow. Although some of the parents featured said that they would prefer not to smack and felt guilty afterwards, others said that it was essential to show who was in charge.
The law on smacking in England and Wales was changed during the last Parliament, making it illegal to leave any mark or bruise on a child. However, the new law maintained the legality of parents hitting children, saying that it was justified on the ground of "reasonable chastisement".
The poll found considerable confusion of the legal status of smacking. Only 43 per cent of parents understood the new law, with the rest thinking that smacking was either illegal or that there were no restrictions.
Copyright 2006 Times Newspapers Ltd.
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