SMACKING your kids could soon become illegal.
The law in England and Wales currently protects parents who give their little ones a light tap or “reasonable chastisement”.
But this rule could become history as Britain’s children’s commissioners are pleading with the UN to back a ban on any form of smacking.
A Government spokesman yesterday said: “The Government does not condone any violence towards children and has clear laws to deal with it. But parents should not be criminalised for giving a child a mild smack in order to control their behaviour.”
Here, two passionate mums debate the backtrack on the smack.
YES SAYS TV PRESENTER ULRIKA JONSSON
WE may be making smacking a child illegal in the UK and I sincerely hope this is successful.
You see, I come from a country where it is already illegal. In 1979, the year the law was passed, I left Sweden for the UK where smacking is still largely tolerated.
Worse, in the UK children were to be “seen and not heard”. Back then I thought you cared for your dogs better than you did your children.
I had been smacked by my late father in Sweden, before the change in the law. It always filled me with fear and confusion.
My fear came from the pain he inflicted and the confusion from my certainty that he couldn’t love me if he could hurt me. It did not make me respect him at any level.
Fast-forward four decades and I find it odd and utterly wrong that if you gave a stranger a smacking in the UK, you’d doubtless find yourself on 24 Hours In Police Custody.
Yet if you punish your child by physically hurting them, you can feel proud that the law is on your side.
We can’t talk about empowering children and giving them rights if we continue to hurt them in response to their behaviour.
I firmly believe an act of violence doesn’t inform children in any way other than for them to think that it’s an acceptable way to behave. If I hit my child, he’s going to hit his classmate if things don’t go his way.
We should not be dissuaded from outlawing smacking on the basis of it being impossible to police. As things stand, we can punish a child as long as it leaves no marks or scratches.
Where’s the dignity in that, for either parent or child?
Yes, I hear you at the back about not needing to be “nannied” by the state (oh, the irony of that verb in this context) but it’s the lives of children and the future generation we’re talking about.
I’m a mum of four so I’m well-versed in parenting, but I’m by no means perfect. My children are 21, 15, 12 and eight, so their behaviours are all very different and that in itself is exhausting.
I have to confess, I did once smack my eldest on the bum when he was about four or five. He had repeatedly, and very blatantly, disobeyed me and my lack of reasoning got the better of me.
He cried and I dissolved into a mess of tears, regret, anguish, guilt, fear and sadness. It didn’t happen again.
The Swedes are very militant about the good treatment and care of children, hence their change in the law.
Another 43 countries worldwide have followed but so far not the UK.
We live in times of horrendous crimes against children, and we have to learn to negotiate and discuss with them.
If inflicting pain on a child is unlawful surely this will make sure parents or carers think twice, which is an improvement on giving them licence to hurt little ones.
NO SAYS SUN WRITER JANE HAMILTON
MOTHER knows best, unless you’re on the UN committee that thinks it knows better than millions of mums and dads.
If the measures to ban any form of smacking, claiming it is “corporal punishment”, go through, all UK parents will be prevented from giving their kids even a gentle tap.
Instead, we’re being told to reason with tantruming two-year-olds and provide “positive support” to misbehaving pre-schoolers.
Let’s be straight. No one supports beating children or smacking for the sake of it. Smacking is the absolute last resort and should always be used sparingly.
But as most people who have children understand, there could be a place for it if used cautiously.
As the law stands, parents can use “reasonable chastisement” but face prosecution if a child is left with bruises, cuts or scratches.
Banning smacking won’t stop problem parents attacking their children, they’ll still be beaten behind closed doors.
But it will stop loving families gently disciplining their children and turn them into criminals facing court if they do.
An all-out ban would also be impossible to police.
It would simply be seen as political interference, which no parent wants.
Rooted in reality
Some well-meaning parents claim smacking is always terrible and you should try talking, withdrawal of privileges or any other myriad of ways to keep your kids on the right path.
I admire their high ideals but, as a mum of three boys, my views are rooted in reality.
On one occasion with my eldest son I tried talking and withdrawal of privileges and got nowhere. After I gave him a smack, he apologised and made proper amends.
Years on, he credits that moment with turning his behaviour around and he’s never needed to be punished like it again.
Does he feel scarred or abused? No.
Some say the proposed ban is the Nanny State gone mad but a good nanny knows you need to keep discipline and guide children well.
So let’s ensure the United Nations doesn’t end up dividing loving families just trying to do the best they can.