Azara Blog: UK Child Commissioners want end to "smacking"

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Date published: 2006/01/22

The BBC says:

The government has rejected calls by the UK's four child commissioners to introduce laws banning the smacking of children, saying parents should decide.

In a letter to Education Secretary Ruth Kelly the four said a law change was a matter of "fundamental principle".

Legislation which was tightened last year allows parents to hit their child mildly as a "reasonable punishment".

The Department for Education and Skills stressed it did not condone physical punishment for children.

In a statement the department said it was for parents to decide, adding: "They have to think carefully about the law on assault and make sure that chastisement does not get to that point. If not they will be prosecuted."

Prime Minister Tony Blair has admitted smacking his older children. Other campaigners say smacking should not be confused with child abuse.

Kathleen Marshall, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, told the BBC that the UK was failing to meet its obligations.

"We must insist on a total ban because this isn't an issue that's going to go away," she said.

"The smacking of children, the hitting of children in what in Scotland is called 'justifiable assault' is prohibited by international law.

"The United Nations and the council of Europe have both made it very clear that all physical punishment, all assaults on children, must be made illegal, and so we would be failing in our duty as children's commissioners if we did not say that we have to keep this on the agenda."

For once (and indeed rarely) the government seems to have told the control freaks to get lost. Of course the remit of "child commissioners" is to put the interests of children above the interests of society as a whole, so it is hardly surprising they put forward this stance. And it is also not surprising that the commissioner for Scotland says "this isn't an issue that's going to go away", since these people have to justify their existence by keeping some issue or other in the public eye. No doubt sooner or later they will get their way (the control freaks usually do) and then move onto the next "pressing" issue.

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