The children’s commissioner for England believes parents should be banned from smacking their children.
In an interview with The Independent, Maggie Atkinson claims there is a loophole in the law, which means pets and adults are better protected from violence than children.
“It’s a moral issue,” she says. “The morals are that, taken to its extreme, physical chastisement is actually physical abuse, and I have never understood where you can draw the line between one and the other. Better that it were not permitted.”
Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute says, “The link being made between smacking and physical abuse is ridiculous. Parents should have the right to discipline their children, and the current law allows them to do so with the defense of ‘reasonable chastisement.’"
He adds, “Banning smacking will only serve to criminalize innocent and responsible parents who are seeking to do what’s best for their children.”
Atkinson says her department will not be campaigning for a ban on smacking because it would be a “poor use of resources.”
“I don’t know if we’d speak out on smacking because there’s a lot of other things in the queue,” she explains.
In response, the government has rejected the idea, saying, “We do not condone violence towards children. However, we do not wish to criminalize parents for issuing a mild smack.”
The current law in England and Wales allows parents to smack their children if it constitutes “reasonable chastisement” and does not leave a serious mark.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has said parents who smack their children should not be judged as long as they are not inflicting violence.
Speaking to LBC Radio 97.3 in December, Clegg said, “I’m not going to start becoming terribly judgmental about what other parents have done with their children.”
A government poll in 2000 showed that 88 percent of people in the U.K. say it is “sometimes necessary to smack a child.”