Prof says Wales smacking consultation ignored research

An academic who contributed to the Welsh Government’s consultation on criminalising parents who smack their children says his research has been misquoted and ignored.

Professor Robert Larzelere called on politicians not to introduce a smacking ban in defiance of the “relevant evidence”.

He said: “The consultation document also failed to summarise all of the most important studies, before claiming that it provided an evidentiary base for a smacking ban”.

No public support

Welsh Assembly Member Darren Millar said: “The Welsh Government seem determined to implement their unpopular smacking ban in the face of a lack of public support and opposition from esteemed academics.”

He said ministers should apologise to Prof Larzelere and added they should think again “before they criminalise tens of thousands of loving parents who use the occasional smack to discipline their children”.

Prof Larzelere argued that “back-up smacking” improves a child’s co-operation with milder disciplinary methods, “so that smacking can be phased out”.

“Back-up smacking has been associated with less aggression or defiance than 10 of 13 alternative disciplinary tactics”.

‘Better outcomes’

He added: “Two other studies found that smacked children had better outcomes than never-smacked children as long as smacking was discontinued by ages nine or 11.”

He said that there have been few, if any, “objective evaluations of smacking bans”, and that the most relevant evidence indicates that criminal assaults and physical abuse increase after smacking is banned in a country.

A Be Reasonable spokesman said: “It is shocking to see what the Welsh Government is prepared to do in order to push through this unpopular legislation. Ministers are ignoring relevant, objective research which suggests that banning smacking would be bad for society.

“And whatever the academics say, the majority of the Welsh public are clear that a smacking ban is a bad idea. Politicians need to listen to the research and their voters, and abandon this push to criminalise parents.”

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