Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Wednesday, 11 January 2006

Experts consider case for smacking

Tony Blair's admission that he had smacked his older children has reopened the debate about whether parents should be allowed to use force to punish their children. Experts and family campaigners have mixed views.

Mary Crowley, of the Parenting Education and Support Forum

We have small families who love their children, why would we hit them? It's like we have moved on from hitting wives.

Why can't we talk to children - we need to have different ways to discipline our children, we have to be able to talk to them and have a relationship with them.

The law should protect children, there should be the same protection as there is for adults protected by the law of assault, so that if things got bad, they can actually have recourse to justice.

Lynette Burrows, author and family campaigner

Children need smacking, I would almost say, like Noel Coward, 'regularly like gongs'.

Nature teaches us all throughout our lives through a small amount of pain. If we didn't have a small amount of pain, children would not survive the first year or two of their lives.

Pain is the thing that tells them something is wrong - it makes them adept, it makes them quick and, as Freud said, children believe that what they are punished for is wrong.

In the past, institutions were savage with children whereas the domestic tradition in this country has always been moderate. Parents love their children and they do what is best for them.

Caroline Abrahams, of children's charity NCH

What the prime minister said yesterday about smacking older children but not his youngest is completely consistent with what is going on in our society.

It is a bit like the way in which smoking was once viewed as acceptable but now people feel very embarrassed about it.

Jack O'Sullivan, of the group Fathers Direct

There has been a huge shift in fatherhood styles in the last 25 years. In the past I think that fathers had a quite narrow experience of actually looking after their children.

It was a notion of breadwinning and then coming home and educating and disciplining.

Today men take a much broader notion of caring for children and it is quite close and intimate.

Clem Henricson, of the National Family and Parenting Institute

Whilst smacking is not the best way of disciplining children, a mild tap is not something we would quibble with. We are all human.

There is no doubt that there is a shift in the way people relate to their children. There is a growing awareness that there are better ways of disciplining than using physical punishment.

PM admits smacking his children
10 Jan 06 |  UK Politics
MPs oppose moves to ban smacking
03 Nov 04 |  UK Politics

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