UN report criticises government for failure to ban smacking of children

There have been renewed calls for a ban on smacking in the UK
following a report by the United Nations recommending it should be

The report, which was unveiled last week, also criticises the
government for failing to tackle the number of child deaths, which
stand at around two a week, and the treatment of children within
the juvenile justice system.

It expresses “deep” concerns that between April 2000 and February
2002, 296 children sustained physical injuries while being detained
and recommends that the government review the use of restraint and
placement of children in juvenile detention and solitary
confinement in prisons.

The use of physical punishment of children is also highlighted, and
the report says it “deeply regrets” that the government has taken
no “significant” action to prohibit physical punishment of children
within the family and recommends that it urgently implements
legislation that prohibits it.

Children’s charities have welcomed the recommendation. Mary Marsh,
director of the NSPCC, which has long campaigned for a ban on
smacking, said: “Our current law does not comply with the
principles and provisions of the of the UN Convention on the Rights
of the Child, which is the benchmark for how we treat children in
the 21st century.”

But young people’s minister John Denham said it was “ludicrous and
dangerous” to link smacking and child abuse deaths because it
diverted attention away from those children most at risk.

The report is based on six hours of evidence from senior government
officials given to the committee at a meeting in Geneva last

– Home office minister Beverley Hughes is backing a new
£50,000 campaign by the National Family and Parenting
Institute encouraging parents not to shout at their children.

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