Irish parents banned from smacking their own children

Parents in the Republic of Ireland may fall foul of the law by smacking their children under new Government legislation.

The Children First Bill, which was enacted last week, removes the defence of “reasonable chastisement”, effectively banning smacking.

Writing in the Irish Independent, columnist Ian O’Doherty argued that the Children First Bill was “yet another piece of legislation that makes State agents of us all”.

Caved to pressure

O’Doherty questioned whether a parent who smacks their child because they have “wandered too close to the pond” will be reported to the police.

The columnist said the move was “doomed to abuse and failure” because “laws that prevent a parent from assaulting their child are already on the books”.

He described it as “another example of publicly looking for a solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist” and implied that the Irish Government had caved to pressure from the UN and the Council of Europe to introduce a “complete and total ban on smacking a child”.

Parents can tell the difference between a loving smack and physical abuse and the law needs to be intelligent enough to recognise the same distinction.Simon Calvert

Distinction

Spokesman for The Christian Institute Simon Calvert warned that responsible parents could now be criminalised for simply disciplining their children.

Mr Calvert said: “Parents can tell the difference between a loving smack and physical abuse and the law needs to be intelligent enough to recognise the same distinction.

“Parents should have the right to discipline their children and the defence of reasonable chastisment allowed them to do so.

“Removing it will only serve to criminalise responsible parents who are seeking to do what’s best for their children.”

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