The government is facing fresh calls today to implement a ban on smacking in the home, as psychologists say it is harmful to children’s mental health.
The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) tabled a motion to the TUC Conference this week calling for physical punishment to be outlawed.
Currently – although corporal punishment is banned in schools – the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, says it is legal for a parent or carer to smack their own child under the terms of “reasonable punishment”.
Section 58 of the Children Act 2004 defends adults, unless the child is left with an injury, in which case they could be charged with common assault.
In October 2017, the Scottish government confirmed a proposed smacking ban, lodged my Green MSP John Finnie, would be made into law. It was the first part of the UK to take this step. But should the rest of the union follow?
Sixty countries already have full bans including Sweden, Ireland, Spain, Germany and Portugal. The UK is one of only four countries in Europe that still allow it, alongside Italy, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic.
Psychologists argue that there are better ways to teach right and wrong, according to the BBC. In fact, some research suggests that when parents use force on their child, changes occur in the brain which may cause them to be more forceful in the future.
Member of the AEP national executive committee, John Drewicz, will tell the TUC conference: “Smacking is harmful to a child’s mental health, it models aggressive behaviour and it says to them that it is okay to use violence.”
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the union, said: “We are not talking about dictating to parents how this is done but what we are saying is that it in 2018 beating children in anger, or as part of a pre-meditated punishment, is neither acceptable or defensible.”
But what do parents think? When asked by HuffPost UK, most respondents backed the idea of introducing a ban on smacking.
Although some said that the new law was just more “red tape” and intervention from the government in people’s personal lives.
And campaigners have argued that parents would be criminalised if a smacking ban were to be passed.
Others had more practical questions about how the potential new law would even be monitored by officials.
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