Ban smacking in the UK, says European official

Parents should be banned from smacking their children in the home, a top European human rights official has said.

Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, says children’s human rights are being breached by the UK’s current laws on smacking.

However concerns persist that such views threaten to undermine parental authority.


The Council wants all of its 47 member countries to completely ban smacking. Currently 21 do so.

Previously, bureaucrats from the Council of Europe have said parents who smack their children should be prosecuted for assault.

In April last year Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, claimed that gentle smacks which do not leave a mark could cause children psychological harm, and attacked the UK’s approach to parenting, saying it was “one of authority.”

‘Vocal minority’

But Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, dismissed her claim, saying: “It is parents, and not national governments, who bear the responsibility of caring for children, nurturing them, and correcting them where necessary.”

He added: “Generations of parents have proved the benefit of moderate smacking to correct their children’s behaviour, and research continues to show its positive effects when used in the context of a loving home where children are respected and cherished.

“It has become a contentious issue only because of a vocal minority who are determined to undermine the authority of parents.”


Later in 2010 a survey by an anti-smacking children’s charity found that most adults agreed that smacking naughty children did not pose a “high risk” to their welfare.

The current law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland allows parents to use ‘reasonable chastisement’ as long as it does not leave more than a transitory mark on the child.

And in Scotland, smacking is allowed but the use of implements, shaking or blows to the head are outlawed.

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