Laws to criminalise parents who smack their children have been passed in both Scotland and Wales. There has been pressure for England to follow suit.
Those who support changes in the law misrepresent a controlled smack by a loving parents as equivalent to child abuse.
But the legal defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ only protected parents who use a mild smack. Any unreasonable chastisement was already unlawful. Removing this defence was an unprecedented inference in family life by the state.
The police have been placed under a duty to investigate any allegations of physical chastisement. This process alone will be deeply distressing for families and could see children removed from homes and parents’ jobs affected.
Criminalising smacking will also distract social services and police with trivial cases, meaning vital services can’t help those who really need it.
Not every parent will choose to smack, and different children benefit from different forms of discipline. But parents should have the freedom to decide.
The Christian Institute backs ‘Be Reasonable‘, a grassroots campaign of parents and supportive groups opposed to criminalising loving parents for a mild smack.