Should the Lib Dems support a total ban on smacking?

by Stephen Tall on June 16, 2007

That’s the call from Annette Brooke MP, Lib Dem Children and Young Persons Spokesperson, after the Labour Government announced a policy review:

“There needs to be a clear signal that physical punishment is counter-productive and damaging. Children that are hit are more likely to hit others and are more likely to be bullies. If it is wrong to hit an adult, it is wrong to hit a child – children deserve equal protection. There should be a total ban accompanied by supportive measures for parents, so that they can find different ways to change their children’s behaviour.”

What do Lib Dem Voice readers think? Is this the nanny-state gone PC-mad? Or a long-overdue attempt to prevent casual violence?

My view? Smacking should always be a last resort. There are nearly always better ways of chastising a child. But the government has absolutely no right to undermine parents’ right to decide how best to bring up their kids.

There is the world of difference between a smack administered within a loving environment, and wilful cruelty that scars mentally and physically. Liberals, above all, should recognise that fact rather than supporting blanket unenforeable bans which treat both cases the same.

(Declaration of interest: I can remember being smacked twice as a child. I have lived to tell the tale.)