Smacking should be banned to increase respect for “children’s rights”, a top European official has said.
The Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe has reiterated her call for the UK to ban smacking despite warnings from critics who last week said it was simply Government interfering in family life.
Concerns have also been raised that “a vocal minority” are in danger of undermining parents’ authority to discipline their children.
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio called on the UK to take the “essential step” of banning corporal punishment last week.
And now she has said the legal defence in the UK which allows parents to “reasonably chastise” their children “effectively halts the evolution towards a society more respectful of children’s rights and parents’ potential to improve their parental skills”.
She continued that a legal ban is not a “crusade against parents” saying “it is the definite push that society needs to start resorting to non-violent and more efficient forms of discipline.
“A legal ban neither erodes parental authority nor questions the need for discipline. It just challenges the use of violence”, she said in a letter to The Daily Telegraph.
Last week Mrs de Boer-Buquicchio claimed that gentle smacks which do not leave a mark could cause children psychological harm.
But the move was criticised as being a European ‘diktat’ which would intrude into family life.
And one mum writing in the Daily Mail was concerned that she could face punishment herself in the future for smacking her children.
Julia Llewellyn Smith described one situation with her five and two year old children: “Finally – and despite repeated warnings – Clemmie emptied Sasha’s lunchbox all over the floor.
“I whisked her up and tapped her gently, but firmly, on the bottom. ‘Mummy said don’t play with the lunch box’, I said, as I put her down. ‘Never do that again.’
“For about ten seconds, Clemmie yelled. Not from pain, but indignation.
“She then happily stopped her marauding, finished dressing – and trotted merrily off to nursery school with her father.”
She concluded: “As I write this, Clemmie and Sasha have just returned from school and nursery.
“They climb on my lap, shower me with kisses and show me the drawings they have made for me.
“If their human rights have been abused, they seem to have made a robust recovery.
“How traumatised they’ll be if the boys in blue cart Mummy away remains to be seen.”
Last week Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, said: “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.”
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.