Hitting Children Is Wrong, and the Law Should Say So

March 2012 Children are Unbeatable AllianceA BLOG POST BY CATHERINE HODDER FOR THE CHILDREN ARE UNBEATABLE! ALLIANCE “It is extraordinary that children, whose developmental state and small size is acknowledged to make them particularly vulnerable to physical and psychological injury, should be singled out for less protection from assaults on their fragile bodies, minds and dignity.”

Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights, Council of Europe

In England and Wales, parents (and other adults acting in loco parentis) can access a defence of “reasonable punishment” for charges of common assault against a child. There is no such defence for violence against any other group in society.

In recent weeks the media has been questioning the effectiveness of smacking children. The 270 parliamentarians and 600+ organisations and projects which support the Children Are Unbeatable! Alliance all agree that smacking children is a lesson in bad behaviour.

Research shows that physical punishment erodes parent-child relationships and is linked to weak internalisation of moral standards, increased child aggression, violence in later life and poor mental health.

Despite intense pressure from international human rights bodies, the UK Government continues to resist outlawing the physical punishment of children. We are now one of only four countries in the European Union that has failed to prohibit physical punishment or to make the commitment to doing so.

Things look hopeful in Wales, however, where the Assembly recently voted in favour of prohibiting physical punishment. Assembly Members are now urging the Welsh Government to bring forward legislation at the earliest opportunity.

If you think that children should enjoy the same protection as adults under the law on assault, please sign up to support the aims of the Children Are Unbeatable! Alliance

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