Smacking ruling sparks anger

Childrens’ charities and organisations have
reacted angrily to the government’s announcement that it will not
change the law to ban smacking.

Parents are legally allowed to use “reasonable
chastisement” when disciplining their child. Health minister Jacqui
Smith said: “A change would neither command widespread public
support nor be capable of consistent enforcement.”

The move follows 70 per cent of the 900 who
responded to the government’s Protecting Children, Supporting
consultation document saying the status quo should
remain the same.

NSPCC director Mary Marsh described the ruling
as a step backwards for child protection. She said: “It is
scandalous that the government has ignored the view of virtually
every child protection and health professional in the country.”

Rachel Hodgkin of the Children are Unbeatable!
Alliance, a campaigning group made up of more than 300
organisations, said: “How can the government go on defending a
situation in which slapping another adult is a criminal offence,
but if the victim is a baby or a toddler it’s legal?”

Obi Amadi, lead professional officer of the
Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association, said:
“The tragic case of Victoria Climbie shows that once you start to
hit a child there is the possibility that this could be the
slippery slope that results in greater physical damage to that
child, and in extreme cases, death.”

In Scotland, all physical punishment of
children up to their third birthday will be banned under new
proposals from the executive.

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