A new opinion poll suggests most adults still oppose a ban on
smacking children, but more than 40 per cent would now support a
change and 72 per cent favour measures to educate parents about
alternatives to corporal punishment for children.
The poll by Populus for The Times newspaper found 59 per cent of
adults were against a change in the law to give children the same
protection from being hit or assaulted that adults already have,
“which would make it illegal for parents to smack their
Men, those in the highest income groups, and people who voted
Conservative were the most likely to oppose change. 64 per cent of
those in social groups A,B and C1 opposed a ban compared to 52 per
cent in social groups C2, D and E.
Only among 18 to 24 year olds was there a majority (59 per cent) in
favour of a smacking ban.
The poll contrasts with a Mori poll for the NSPCC in 2002 which
indicated that most people would support a change in the law to ban
hitting children if it were clear that “trivial smacks”
by parents would not result in prosecution. The NSPCC found that
parents were more likely to support a smacking ban under these
circumstances than adults in general.
The United Nations has expressed “deep regret” that
British law continues to accept the defence of “reasonable
chastisement” in respect of parents hitting children. But the
government has claimed a total ban on smacking would be unworkable.
Prime Minister Tony Blair said discipline was “a matter of
individual choice for parents”.
The Scottish Executive abandoned a plan to ban smacking of children
under three years old in 2002 after failing to persuade enough
Members of the Scottish Parliament to support the measure.