Parents put off taking children to casualty for fear of abuse allegations
Most people (78%) believe that too many parents are made to feel afraid just for smacking their children, a new poll reveals today. And 59% believe that some parents who smack their children are so worried about false allegations of abuse that they are put off taking a child with an accidental injury to the doctor.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 2 November), MPs will debate changing the smacking law. Three options will be put to the House of Commons: leave the law unchanged, remove the ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence in some circumstances, or completely ban all smacking.
This poll shows that one in five parents (19%) have worried about smacking in public for fear of someone making an allegation against them. Other findings in the poll show that Labour voters are strongly supportive of smacking. Nearly eight out of ten Labour voters (77%) think it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child. A similar percentage of Liberal Democrats voters (78%) agree – this is despite the fact that the party is committed to a total ban on smacking. Michael Howard is to give Tory MPs a free vote on Tuesday, but this poll finds 90% of Conservative voters support smacking. The poll findings are broadly comparable with the Office for National Statistics data showing that 88% of people think it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child. More results and details about the poll are available.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said, “Those who want to make smacking a criminal offence have created a climate of fear amongst parents. So much so that most people believe that some parents who smack their children are so worried about false allegations of abuse that they are put off taking a child with an accidental injury to the doctor. Those who want to ban smacking will end up damaging children’s interests.
“Changing the law will greatly exacerbate this climate of fear. Parents who use ordinary smacking already feel like they have to look over their shoulder for fear of politically-correct snoopers reporting them. If the smacking law is changed the situation will be made very much worse. Everyone agrees that children should be protected from genuine abuse, and the current law does exactly that. The current law has the right balance between protecting children and protecting parents.”
Note to Editors:
CommunicateResearch interviewed a random sample of 1009 adults aged 18+ by telephone on 27-28 October 2004. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults.