Psychologist union criticised over call to ban smacking

Calls to ban smacking in England by a union of psychologists have been rubbished by campaigners.

The Association of Educational Psychologists told the Trade Unions Congress that smacking “models aggressive behaviour” in children.

But parents and campaigners say the association is conflating a light smack from a loving parent with child abuse and domestic violence.


Speaking to Premier Christian Radio, The Christian Institute’s Ciarán Kelly said: “Unfortunately, people who advocate the route of criminalising parents conflate loving parental discipline – a mild smack – with child abuse, domestic violence and assault.”

He said there can be little doubt that a child who grows up in a “violent home where beatings are handed out” will experience long-term negative effects, but that this was not the real issue.

He added: “It is one thing for them as educationalists to have an opinion about how to parent children, but it’s quite another for them to be jumping on the bandwagon to criminalise parents who disagree with them.”

Victoria Derbyshire

Speaking on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, sociologist Dr Stuart Waiton debated self-described ‘parenting coach’ Sue Atkins.

Atkins argued smacking should be criminalised because if an adult smacked an adult it would be a criminal offence.

Dr Waiton said that there are “lots of things” adults do to their children which if done to an adult would be a criminal offence, including grounding them, feeding them vegetables or confiscating their phone.

He said: “This is what a loving parent does as part of their discipline”.

Big Difference

Author, mum of two and former Big Brother contestant Rebecca Jane told This Morning there is a “big difference between smacking and beating”.

She said: “We’re not going to be beating our children, we’re talking about smacking.”

Jane was countering claims from agony aunt Hilary Freeman that smacking is damaging to children and should be banned.

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