A lot of people are in complete and utter disbelief after the government rejected calls for physical punishment of children – such as smacking – to be fully banned in England.
In Wales, Scotland and Jersey, any type of corporal punishment – for example, smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking children – is illegal.
The NSPCC and Barnardo’s children charities have said England must follow suit, according to BBC News.
But the government has confirmed it won’t be making any changes and a Department for Education spokesperson told the news site it “does not condone any violence towards children and has clear laws in place to prevent it”.
As it stands, in England and Northern Ireland it’s technically legal for a caregiver to discipline a child physically if it’s a “reasonable” punishment.
While current child protection laws protect children from physical abuse, campaigners want to see changes in the law to protect children from physical punishment, too.
NSPCC chief executive, Sir Peter Wanless, said: “It cannot be right that in this country it is illegal to hit an adult, but equal protection is not given to a child.”
When news broke, a lot of people couldn’t believe what they were hearing.
If it were an adult being smacked it would be classed as assault.— Kate Wilton (@KateWilton1) April 12, 2023
Why would anyone refuse to ban physical abuse like smacking?— Ares M (@Eegrayne) April 12, 2023
Hitting a child doesn't punish the behaviour, it punishes the child. It has major long term impacts, like poor anger control, ASB, and many others. Parents shouldn't do it.— Mike Hunt (@TeessideCommie1) April 12, 2023
Wow! #England there is NEVER a “reasonable” excuse for assaulting a child or anyone for that matter. No wonder so many English people are moving to #Scotland…better healthcare, better social care & we know it’s wrong to hit a child. https://t.co/RLeIBQZC6K— Angela MacLellan 🏴 (@AngieMacL) April 12, 2023
The right: protect our kids!— Daley Kong's Quest (@Daley_Kong) April 12, 2023
Also the right: not from me tho, let me smack them
Yet again England is out of sync with the rest of the UK.— Geraint (@Geraint2019) April 12, 2023
Disgusting. Violence instills fear and anger and makes home an unsafe environment for a child.— Layla (@layla31554) April 12, 2023
Some didn’t see any issue with it however, or believed parents should be left to decide what’s appropriate or not.
Now bring it back into schools.— S4ndm4n (@Or1ginalSandman) April 12, 2023
Less teacher strikes if they could give the trouble maker kids a deserving back hand every now & then.
I think smacking should be discouraged as much as possible and certainly has no use once kids get to school age-in fact, it probably teaches them the wrong lesson. However, slapping the hand of a toddler about to pull a pan off the stove shouldn’t be illegal. Can’t we trust ppl?— Martyn McClure (@MartynMcClure) April 12, 2023
As someone who once went to school with a swollen lip. This is a difficult one. But I believe most people probably deploy smacking ..correctly. (2/3 of French parents smack? And they turn out normal) It's just when someone loses control of their anger I think.— George (@MarkC0011) April 12, 2023
Critics have previously suggested a law change to ban physical punishment will criminalise parents, but really the main focus is protecting children’s rights.
A survey commissioned by the NSPCC previously found more than two-thirds of adults in England believe it’s wrong for parents or carers to physically punish their child, with 58% thinking it was already illegal.
More than 60 nations worldwide have legislated against the physical punishment of children.
Last year, the Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza said she would be “supportive” if the government decided to follow in Scotland and Wales’ footsteps in making corporal punishment illegal.
At the time, then education secretary Nadhim Zahawi rejected the call, saying mothers and fathers are “entitled” to be able to discipline their youngsters.
“My very strong view is that actually we have got to trust parents on this, and parents being able to discipline their children is something that they should be entitled to do,” the minister told Times Radio.
“We have got to just make sure we don’t end up in a world where the state is nannying people about how they bring up their children.”