The education secretary says “no”, so we ask Wiganers: should England ban smacking children?

“Parents should be trusted to make their own decisions about whether to smack their children”, the Education Secretary has said, so we asked Wiganers: should England ban corporal punishment?

By Holly Pritchard
Friday, 22nd April 2022, 12:30 pm

And views are split down the middle, with some Wigan readers saying it is nothing short of assault and others saying it improves discipline and does no harm.

Minister Nadhim Zahawi rejected a call from the Children’s Commissioner for England for a ban on smacking children, saying mothers and fathers are “entitled” to be able to discipline their children.

But, Dame Rachel de Souza had earlier told Times Radio she would be “supportive” if the Government decided to follow Scotland and Wales in banning physical punishment of children.

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Mr Zahawi said: “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.

“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.”

Wales last month made any type of corporal punishment, including smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking, illegal in the country and Scotland introduced a similar ban in November 2020.

Here is what Wigan Today readers had to say:

Jackie Lewis: “Absolutely. Hitting someone smaller and weaker than yourself is bullying and I never wanted my children to think that bullying is OK.”

Ian Foster: “I was smacked as a kid and it did me no harm but as you grow up, I realised the worst form of abuse came from how some other people treat you.”

Jonny Boyes: “Never did me any harm. I had respect. Generally, kids today can gey away with anything. No respect for anything or anybody.”

Gillian Hewitson: “Beating up children, yes. But I’d rather smack a child’s hand than allow it to stick its fingers in an electric plug hole. There is a difference.”

Sharon Weir: “Absolutely yes! Never ever could I use violence against a child. Mine is 28 now and I’ve never had to smack him.”

Paul Lannon: “No, give them discipline, then you would not have a generation (not all) of people who have no respect for elders or authority.”

Paul White: “Just look at society since corporal punishment stopped!!!! It’s not better, that’s for sure.”

Jennifer Mercer: No, not at all. This is the problem, people have no respect for each other. It never did us any harm, if we had done wrong we knew the consequences.”

Vicky Bates: “Depends, there’s a massive difference between tapping your kid’s hand and beating them.”

The “smacking ban”, was brought in under the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 and marks the end of the common law defence of “reasonable punishment”.

Parents or anyone who is responsible for a child while the parents are absent can now face criminal or civil charges if they are found to have physically disciplined a young person in any way.

Critics of the law change have said it will criminalise parents, but the Welsh Government insisted the move was about protecting children’s rights.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer previously said the move should be mirrored in England and Northern Ireland, calling it “the right thing” to do.

A survey commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children found more than two-thirds of adults in England believe it is wrong for parents or carers to physically punish their child, with 58 per cent thinking it was already illegal.

More than 60 nations worldwide have legislated against the physical punishment of children.