Peers allow parents a ‘light smack’ but dash hopes of a complete ban

    Peers voted to allow parents to lightly smack their children last
    week, rejecting calls for an outright ban.

    The amendment would allow parents to administer smacking as a
    reasonable punishment as long as it does not cause “physical or
    mental harm”.

    Lord Lester, who tabled the amendment, said: “There is a need to
    strengthen legal protection for children whose parents are violent
    towards them, but I do not believe that parents should be
    criminalised for administering a light disciplinary smack because
    it is technically a battery.”

    The Children are Unbeatable Alliance, which represents more than
    350 organisations and projects, believes a ban on all forms of
    corporal punishment is needed.

    The government had said it would not support a total ban on
    smacking, arguing that the kind of punishment that causes injury
    was clearly not “reasonable chastisement” and therefore already
    against the law.

    Peers also backed a government amendment for details of the types
    of information stored on the government’s proposed databases on
    children to be included in the Children Bill rather than left to

    Baroness Ashton said the government had proposed the change in
    response to calls from peers in the bill’s committee stage and from
    the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee (news
    analysis, page 19, 8 April).

    The bill also confirms that the details of any person providing a
    service to a child and any concerns they have about them will be
    held. But Ashton said the database would not contain information
    about children’s individual cases as discussed with

    She said a formal public consultation on how practitioners should
    register concerns on the database would be launched in autumn.

    As the Lords discussed plans to develop a database, MPs revealed
    that a similar system set up to track cattle after the BSE crisis
    is “inefficient” and “overly burdensome” – and has resulted in the
    “loss” of some 1.2 million cows in England.

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