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Monday, 24 January, 2000, 12:34 GMT
Should smacking be illegal?

Hitting a child with a cane, belt or any other implement is to be outlawed in England. However smacking is to remain an acceptable form of punishment.

Do you think the proposals go far enough to protect children from abuse, or do you think parents should be left with some freedom to discipline their offspring? Tell us what you think. HAVE YOUR SAY I think that smacking children should be illegal because it's just so wrong. Children shouldn't be smacked, it's so wrong and nobody thinks about how the children feel when they get hit. Why do people do it, it's appalling.
Tara, England

Our school just had a debate on this very issue and most of the points raised against smacking where majorly outdone by the ones which said that smacking should not be outlawed... Mostly brought up was the point that the government has no right to interfere with the law-abiding citizens' upbringing methods

A timely smack is not a harmful method. Severe physical punishment is.
Martin Wragg, UK
The psychological development of a child is characterised by copying the behaviour of others and forming a set of values that tell him/her what sort of behaviour is acceptable and what is not in given circumstances. To acquire this set of values, the child has to "push out the envelope" - to be outrageous, disobedient etc. merely to find out where the limits are.
It may sometimes be necessary to sharply remind the child that a line has been crossed and in spite of the child's insistence (perfectly natural given that he/she is trying to find out where the limits are) now is the time to stop. A timely smack is not a harmful method. Severe physical punishment is.
Martin Wragg, UK

There are some families that still have feelings and have traditions. They can go out for a meal or go to church together but there are some, who most see as the "modern day" family who neglect there children. Mothers, who increasingly are working in office environments working 8-5 shifts are having to neglect there children and going back to work as soon as 1 week after child birth.
The families I mean, are the families who do not believe that hitting their children will solve the problem. They try to remain calm and if the child has done something wrong, then why? They ask themselves, why? They assess the situation and make a judgement on what to do but will never resort to violence towards their children.
Parents either smack or don't smack, they will either never smack or always have and don't intend to stop.
Thomas, England

Parents should be allowed to smack their children. It is because there is lack of discipline that children have no respect for their elders; teachers; police and any other people.
Eileen Banks, Australia

How would you police it if it was illegal? If you can't enforce a law it is a bad law. Parents should by no means be able to beat their children with objects such as belts, sticks or canes. Parents should be allowed to smack their children when it is required. After all a good parent should know, when a child has misbehaved what type of punishment (if any) is best suited to that child. Not all children respond the same - blindingly obvious.
I know some children who would have derived great benefit from the occasional smack and possibly be more thoughtful and responsible now!
Pauline Gick, England

Smacking, just like beatings, are necessary for parents to show who is the boss. Children should be seen, and not heard from or behave disrespectfully.

All Jews and Christian are told 'Spare the rod and spoil the child' Banning smacking and corporal punishment would be a religious infringement.
Rev. Rodney C. Simmonds, Austria

What concerns me is this ongoing programme of government interference in people's private lives.
Paul, UK
Whether smacking is beneficial is hard to prove, but if it is wrong, at worst it must be one of society's minor ills. What concerns me is this ongoing programme of government interference in people's private lives. A hundred years ago, a British citizen could go through life largely unaware of any state interference in his/her affairs. Look where we are today. I lived for 2 years in the US and I am full of admiration for that country's genuine commitment to personal freedom. I hope we Brits wake up soon.
Paul, UK

When I was in school I was smacked on the backside by two teachers on separate occasions. One of the teachers I liked and respected and who I believe liked me. The punishment was dished out...I soon forgot it and went on my way. The other teacher I hated and really disliked me intensely and went out of his way to prove that. That smacking I never forgot...or the cruel look on his face. It's not just the punishment┐it's the way it's handled.
Jeremy Harris, USA/UK

I was smacked as a child, sometimes by my mother's hand and ocasionally with a belt by my father. My parents used smaking as a last resort punishment and I am glad that I was smacked. I fully believe that it contributed to making me into a mature adult. I may have felt that I "hated" my parent for it at the time, but I learned my lessons and got over the bad feeling very quickly. I am about to become a parent myself, my wife and I expect our first child in July and I can say that I will smack my child as part of my role as a loving and caring parent when and only when I believe it to be required. This doesn't make me an abuser, it makes me a good parent who is concerned for the childs future.
Paul Barker, UK

Reasonable and measured physical punishment from responsible and loving parents is part of growing up. It is an act of love on the part of such people as they form their child into a person who respects the difference between right and wrong. It teaches children that there are consequences to bad behaviour, a lesson which they will carry on into later life.
Derek, UK

Smacking shouldn't be made illegal if you're kid is doing something wrong! Give the kid a stern warning, then if he/she continues to defy you, a few smacks on the booty is in order. This cockamamie "abuse" and "If you hit your kid he'll become a batterer too" is just awful. Abuse and just hitting your kid to vent anger is wrong, but to smack your kid to restore order shouldn't be outlawed ANYWHERE!
Wanda Mae, Canada

If children don't get the "tough love" that is available to them at home, then how will they learn lessons later in life? A smack on the rump never hurt anyone if it was for punishment for something that was done wrong. As a boy I got quite a few for my mischief, but in the end I realised that I might not have liked it then and there, but the lesson sticks with you in life. I'm not condoning the abuse of children, but I hardly think giving your wee one a smack for a bad act should be illegal!
Charlie, Wales

Just look at the animals. Are they smarter than us? I watched a lioness and her sister slap hard a young kitten for its bad behaviour. They just wanted to show him that he needs to respect elderly and behave appropriately. This "liberal" nonense has gone too far. I was whipped in my youth, and I believe that I deserved every bit of it. Actually, it made me a better human being. I could have become an arsonist as I loved fire. My parents basically slapped it out of me. They simply didn't know what else to do.
Artur, USA

I feel that a smack on the leg is appropriate when all other methods have failed and the child has been warned that if he/she does not stop what they are doing then they will receive a smack on the leg. I only advocate that a smack should only be on the leg, hand or the 'backside' and that hitting a child on any other part of the body is not right, this is very evident when a child repeatedly puts itself into a dangerous situation and all other form of punishment has failed.
Eileen M, England

Yet another example of how Britain is moving closer to becoming a dictatorship. The government has no business interfering in the home life of decent law-abiding citizens. I am originally from Britain and am glad that I now live in a truly FREE country.
Alan, USA

Being violently punished is a lot harder to just pass off than just being grounded.
Trent Reznor, Canada
I know as a child, that being hit for something you feel wasn't even a big deal, develops a vast amount of bitter hate for the person, inside you. Obviously parents and children have different views on certain problems, and being violently punished is a lot harder to just pass off than just being grounded.
Trent Reznor, Canada

Why are so many people bleating on about the "rights of children" and that "violence" is acceptable?! We are not talking about the deliberate or excessive beating of children. Sure, that kind of thing is, and should be, outlawed. We are talking about instilling respect for elders/adults/authority in general. There is little doubt in my mind that one who experiences suitable punishment when caught wrongdoing is likely to think twice before doing so again. Stop the whining, and let's put some respect back into youth!
Nick, UK

Whether or not parents are allowed to smack their children is not really the issue. The real issue is that the British are bringing up generations of insolent an ill-disciplined brats. Go across the channel, and if you find a screaming child having a tantrum or just being naughty, you will find that it is a British child.
Why is it that Johnny foreign can bring up children which eat at a meal table, whilst the British bring up children who do not learn the distinction between meal time and play time?
Duncan Campbell, UK

If children can test authority at home and get away with it, the public will have their hands full.
Neil Goodson, USA
I believe that children should be warned first of what they have done. If they wish to test authority there is nothing wrong with a spank on the backside, not the face. If children can test authority at home and get away with it, the public will have their hands full. Teachers and parents will fear the children of the next generation.
Neil Goodson, USA

God save us from the English sense of fair play and their belief that the world is an awfully nice place, what? No matter what laws you pass, there will always be those individuals who are cruel or twisted. The retrobate that was convicted recently of microwaving a cat will no doubt do the same to his child one day regardless of what the law says. As a child at school, I was caned now and again. At home I got a thick ear now and again. I didn't turn into a mass murderer or tyrant because of it.
John, South Africa

As my parents and their parents were whacked by their parents, I whacked mine, and mine whacks hers. If any government presumes to interfere with a child rearing process that we know works, then perhaps it's time we change the direction of those we voted into office, by voting them out. The function of government has never been to dictate to those who elected them, how they should raise their children. It may be tolerated in dictatorships, but in democratic nations, this crosses the line.
Jim, USA

Spare the rod and spoil the child. How dare the government interfere with families. Can't the existing child abuse laws be enforced?
Sean P. Porter, USA

I do not want smacking to be made illegal. I agree that parents freedom to smack can be abused by some but to ban altogether is to throw the baby out with the bath water and leave parents finding other solutions that could be very harmful to children emotionally and also give them the wrong message about the consequences of wrong doing.
Paul Goodman, UK

After being smacked a total of three times as a child for serious transgressions, I'm obliged to report that I've not yet become a felon. Get a life folks, install legal apparatus to avert real abuse, not discipline. You see what the net effect of outlawing corporal punishment is over here in the states don't you?

I have read the responses to this talking point with interest. The issue of whether it is right or wrong to smack children does seem to be a source of deep anxiety. I am a father with a grown-up son whom I did smack on occasions. But I regret it and I have told him so. I recall then when I did this, although it was rare, I felt I had actually lost control and felt very guilty about it afterwards. I now work in a school, not as a teacher, but I do see first hand the problems faced by teachers having to cope with unruly behaviour. It is tempting to say bring back the cane, but deep down I know this is not the real answer. The whole issue of bringing up children and educating them in school is fundamental to us all. It is a very complex matter indeed and certainly does not depend simply upon whether we use physical punishment or not. Many have said that such forms of punishment never did them any harm. I challenge that by asking whether, in all honesty, it actually did them any good. Such incidents are not confined to children, adults can behave badly too. So in response to the general point about legislation against smacking, no I don't think I it would be practicable, But I do think that those responsible for the care of children and young people should listen to advice about alternatives to physical punishment. We should all try to remember that we are very much a product of our experiences and the environment in which we are brought up, but few of us would believe that physical punishment actually plays a constructive role in shaping our character.
Phil Hall, UK

If the government want to dictate to us how we discipline our children, do they also want to pay for their upbringing too? Will they also take full responsibility for any wrongdoing they do ? Somehow I don't think so! Canes and belts are clearly wrong but a timely slap on the wrist isn't.
Shaun, England

Of course smacking shouldn't be banned. Kids should just be aware of their right to charge for assault.
Paul Rushworth, UK

I was brought up in England and was beaten from a young age, how can any one think they have the right to submit pain and fear on to anyone let alone a child. It is time for Britain and Europe to realise that this is not only unacceptable but an outrage to all the people in the world whom actually care for these poor children
John, Canada

Rubbish. How dare they tell us not to smack our children, I feel it is due to the fact that we have given so many rights to children that there are children walking around thinking they are Gods gift to the earth and have no discipline. Smacking should be a form of discipline to be given by parents, stop telling us how to bring up our children.
Yemi, London

I feel that smacking is a perfectly acceptable form of disciplining children. I certainly remember the times I was smacked as a child and it helped to reinforce the boundaries my parents felt were acceptable. In a society as complex as ours it is surely essential that parents are able to administer 'on the spot' punishment for bad behaviour. It is, however, sad to see Parents that misuse the privilege of smacking. A child that is constantly smacked for naughty behaviour soon loses all fear and ultimately the respect of the parent.
Mark, UK

Of course smacking should not be made illegal. When did smacking cause any problems when used in the right context i.e. by loving parents to children who cannot be reasoned with or as a deterrent. Does any sensible person really think such a law will stop the people who beat their children.
Eddy de Brouwer, England

There is a world of difference between violence and the smacking of a child by a responsible parent. The two should not be confused. Legislating against smacking would be totally ineffective and ultimately pointless. Children don't have the power of reason as adults, despite what the do-gooders would have us believe, but children do understand the association between misbehaviour and discomfort, and therefore it is effective if used moderately. What we should be doing with parents is educating them and supporting them through parenthood, not trying to trap them with nanny-state legislation.
Mark, UK

As a father of six healthy, intelligent and courteous children, I have never had to resort to smacking with my hand or a weapon. I believe that it teaches children that violence is an acceptable form of coercion. That said, I do not believe that parliament should introduce legislation that is un-enforceable.
Chris Klein, UK

Smacking or using any item to hit a child is morally wrong. Many people are horrified when they see or read of violence against pets but most turn a blind eye when the violence is against a child who cannot protect themselves. All violence does is to say to the child that if you don't get your own way it's okay to revert to violence. This is a message we should not be promoting to any child.
Simon Atkinson, UK

Smacking in itself is not abuse. However, I believe a child should never be smacked in the face. That is an assault. The only possible response can be defence and an attack of that sort is much stronger than the lesson a parent is trying to teach.
Roy, USA

Our ten year old son was smacked (just lightly) when he was very tiny. He knows that the sanction is there, consequently he stays within the perimeters given to him and he hasn't been smacked for many years
Anon, UK

I approve of "smacking", as children must be disciplined without becoming brutal. Spanking is the only way to teach rebellious children the right way to behave.
Douglas Taylor, Argentina

I am 75 years old. Until the age of 8, I was smacked on the bum for important transgressions, but never without a prior warning that what I had been doing was wrong, and if I persisted, I'd be smacked. When I was 8 years old, my father sat me down after I'd done something well deserving of a smack, and told me that I had reached the age of reason; instead of smacks, I'd get a lecture. Believe me, after the first lecture, I'd have voted for restoring the smacks.
Rob, USA

Having similar arguments in my country, first of all, I think the biggest issue is that the government believes it can control the family and individuals. What do a lot of old MPs know about raising someone else's children? They are just stimulated by their own self-interests. I think the argument should be about boundaries of a government. If smacking is outlawed, will other laws be passed condemning people who believe in smacking, not to have children?
Caroline Milburn, New Zealand

You cannot legislate over relationships. It would be based on a false and superior sense of morality. Yes, physical abuse is evil, but smacking - even the use of a stick or slipper - is not necessarily abuse. Legislation cannot take the place of value judgements when every incident of smacking has a different context. The government should keep out of peoples' private lives.
Peter Barraclough, England

'Smacking' is dangerous and barbaric. But, it does allow one to make a point to a child. The danger is in that it does not change the way children think. 'Smacking' is a good way for a maladjusted adult to get rid of their stress in life. But, it is a form of abuse. I think it would be far better if governments would stay out of the idea of invading the 'family' and messing with family values. Do we want Big Brother to be our guardian?
Dave Adams, USA

At last a step in the right direction. To hit an adult with a weapon such as a cane or belt would be classed as assault. A criminal act. Up until now to hit a child in the same way is not. Get real. It is assault whichever way you wish to word it. Hitting a child is possibly even worse, it is a form of bullying. As for the "it never did me any harm" ramblings, whether it did or it did not is not really the point. The physical injuries in most cases will heal. What about the possibility of mental scars, which may came back to haunt in later life.
SA, England

Spare the Rod! It's as true today as it always was. The nasty little thugs we now have who ruin school for decent pupils and teachers are the result of banning corporal punishment in schools. Now we will have similar discipline as a generality. Other punishments such as grounding are soft. Sorry, if we do this we shall be sowing the wind and will reap a dreadful whirlwind in 10 to 15 years time. This is Political Correctness gone crazy!
Steve Foley, England

History has shown that corporal punishment works. History has also shown that when you stop corporal punishment you get greatly increased numbers of teen criminals. If the nanny state wants to pass a new law how about one causing children to be good.
Richard T. Ketchum, USA

I went to school in England and got the cane or paddle numerous times, and never resented it. One time a teacher hit me with his hand and I disliked him from then on. Dogs feel the same attitude. If you hit a dog with your hand the dog, it will become alienated from you. If you use an object, such as a rolled up newspaper it will still be fond of you. So I would outlaw slapping by hand but approve of using a cane.
Alex May, USA

Smacking is virtually banned in this country. So, go ahead ban in the UK. I am sure your crime rates will rise to the same levels as ours. I am sure your children will feel safe at school, just like ours. It may take some time for children to grow up and reach our low American standards. But by the time that happens it will be too late to fix the problem. So when you ban smacking you might as well get a head start on building all the new prisons you will need.
Scott Olsen, USA

Another inch (no, not centimetre) toward a totalitarian society, where near-do-wells and do-gooders tell other people how to live their lives. How typically English!
J Fuller, USA

I was smacked by my father for various youthful misdemeanours, and caned at school for both valid and invalid reasons - and I certainly do not resent the fact, nor do I think it made me want to subsequently "hit out" at anybody as a consequence. Rather, I believe it instilled in me a sense of what was right and wrong, and guided me on the straight and narrow path that (sadly) many of today's youngsters seem to be missing. I am sick to the back teeth of "do-gooders" demeaning parental control and then being the first to complain at today's lack of responsibility, humanity and respect for what is right and wrong in young people.
Al, England

I have read that schoolyard bullying is a bigger problem in the UK than elsewhere. Might there be a connection with "smacking"?
Bill Morris, USA

I was smacked as a child, maybe 10 times in total over 16 years, and the only reason I remember it is because it was so rare. I knew that I had stepped too far over the line that had been drawn by my parents and would be full of self-pity for a few minutes but I certainly haven't grown up to be a violent individual. Likewise I have smacked my 3 year old daughter maybe twice in 3 years but WILL not be told now by a faceless bureaucrat that I am no longer able to chastise my child when her behaviour warrants it. She is told on a daily basis how much she is loved and will always be loved by us, but she also knows that when Mummy or Daddy say stop we mean it. And that if we start counting to 3 and reach 3 a smack will follow, normally the counting itself works wonders!!!!

If the government want to dictate to us how we discipline our children, do they also want to pay for their upbringing too ? Will they also take full responsibility for any wrongdoing they do ? Somehow I don't think so! They do however require parents to be fully responsible for the behaviour and actions of their children, whilst at the same time they are now seriously considering prohibition of a sanction all children understand a smack. Canes and belts are clearly wrong, but a timely slap on the wrist isn't.
Shaun, England

If it is illegal to physically assault an adult, then a child should have the same protection or more. Hitting a child only teaches them to lie, and avoid responsibility for their actions thus avoiding being hit. Spending time teaching a child the boundaries and the natural consequences of their actions goes much further in teaching them civility than hitting them ever will.
Gena, USA

As a 58 year old father of 4 adult children (aged between 25 and 33) and the grandfather of 5, I think that the 'pc' do-googer brigade should re-consider their positions. Smacking is not a pre-meditated action of parents, but is a re-action to misbehaviour of their children. Chastising by smacking is perfectly acceptable and I have not come across anybody who has suffered long term from such chastisement. Obviously, leather belts, shoes, sticks, etc are not acceptable as they do involve 'pre-meditation'. I often wonder just how many of the 'pc' brigade have children of their own!!
Terry Mullard UK

Distinction should be made between smacking and senseless beating of a child. In as much as children have rights over their parents, so do parents over their children. It is my belief that no responsible parent would beat their child senselessly, and that anti-smacking campaigner's are confusing the issues involved. The government of the day should recognise parents' rights to rear their children according to their cherished standards. Politicians should also be reminded of the fact that they are representatives and not "masters" of the people who voted them into parliament. Consult your electorate on this issue is my advice, if you are genuinely interested in doing the right thing.
Keen Rog, England

Smacking is really only appropriate as the ultimate sanction for 2 to 5 year olds as the ultimate response to socially unacceptable behaviour. The smack seems only really effective when delivered in the context of the seriousness of the offence and in a controlled way. To strike a child in anger is never acceptable and beyond 4 to 5 yrs is rarely effective however it is carried out. As often observed in public places, the older modern child is apt to respond in kind.
John, UK

After living in the UK, I still cannot believe the tendency for the government in that country to legislate every single aspect of a person's life. Does the government not think that people are capable of raising their own children?
Ward, USA

As someone who was smacked reasonably often, I can say that it did me no good at all. The unfairness and indignity of it generated a strong urge to pass the hurt on, so I in turn smacked my younger siblings.
Obviously it was OK to hit people more vulnerable than oneself if they're being noisy, disruptive etc.....Interestingly, I did post-graduate work at Oxford, and several times the subject of parental punishment methods came up. Everyone I spoke to (except me) had either never been hit at all or had been hit once for a comparatively terrible transgression. So someone must be getting the alternatives right!
Fiona, UK

Punishments need to be tailored to the individual child.
What is the world coming to? A simple smack doesn't do anyone any harm. It does however need to be used only as a last resort when other methods have failed. Punishments need to be tailored to the individual child. Smacking some children even lightly will cause them extreme distress, whilst others several smacks won't effect very much. An arbitrary limit is not appropriate and it should be left to the individual parents to determine what is suitable. After all, who knows the child best!
Tim, England

It seems to me that the ability to discipline children is rapidly being eroded away. This inability to discipline children, as I see it, is responsible for the current problems faced by teachers in the classroom. The cane was a sufficient deterrent when I was in school. There will be no deterrents if smacking is outlawed.
Carl Downing, UK

Why is the government proposing a blanket ban on the use of any implement, such as a slipper, in loving, measured parental discipline? The law needs to prevent brutal beatings. This is a completely different issue. A brutal beating is identifiable by the degree of violence and injury. Are our policy makers and courts really unable to make this distinction?
Anon, UK

Of course parents should not be banned from smacking their children when appropriate. Any right-minded individual can work out for themselves the difference between chastisement and assault; I for one don't need the Nanny State to tell me how to behave. My parents brought me up well (and yes, I was smacked as a child when I stepped far enough out of line).
Richard Packer, UK

I feel that by smacking a child you are sending a strong message to them that violence is okay. As a parent of a toddler I often get frustrated with tantrums, however, to punish in such a way would imply that I had lost control and I would feel deeply ashamed. For advocates of smacking to suggest if outlawed our children will become lawless tearaways is clearly ungrounded - we only have to look to our Scandinavian neighbours to see this is just not true. In fact I would also like to see smacking (also known as hitting) by hand, made illegal. As we enter the new millennium a society that condones violence towards children should hold it's head in shame.
Lucy, England

I agree with banning the use of implements like the cane or belt. However many parents today seem scared to discipline their children at all. Parents should be allowed to smack their children both to stop them doing wrong, and sometimes for their own protection (e.g. playing with the cooker). Some of these children will grow up thinking they can do whatever they want to whoever they want with no consequences. Spare the rod, spoil the child. It does not mean you should beat the child up.
Simon, UK

Only the short, sharp shock of a smack registers the fact that they are not being allowed to cross a particular predefined boundary.
Stephen Gosden, Belgium
Children prosper in a safe environment where the boundaries are clear and the rules enforced - indeed we all do. However, they test the limits frequently, to make sure that their parents - and not they - are in control. Although this is not a conscious process, they need this reassurance. Young children especially cannot be reasoned with, only the short, sharp shock of a smack registers the fact that they are not being allowed to cross a particular predefined boundary. The feedback of pain to the parent helps to prevent the use of excess force, though no legislation will be able to prevent abuse entirely. The current proposals certainly go far enough; any further and a valuable means of parental discipline would become illegal. But note this is for loving discipline - it should not be taken as a licence for venting parental anger.
Stephen Gosden, Belgium

Smacking children is not an amusing activity that parents undertake in their spare time, nor is it a habit, like smoking, that they need to break. It is a form of discipline. It makes the very strongest point possible - that if you're mother or father has taken such an extreme measure then what you did was serious. If a child is doing something undesirable with any degree of malicious intent a smack from a parent would make them think twice about what they were doing, and why. A quiet word after the event, or an idle threat of retribution is not sufficient discipline, as you can plainly see when walking around any town or city centre. Sometimes, sadly, there is no better alternative
Alex S, UK

What the lawmakers forget is that the average parent knows how far to go. Parents and others that will beat a child will continue to do so and could not care less about any law. There are many more important issues that lawmakers need to attend to without making laws that will be impossible to police anyway.
R.Worboys, England

I will not tolerate being lectured to by the government or anyone else!
Kurt Lee, England
There is a very obvious line between abusing a child and smacking a child. I believe smacking a young child can be perfectly justified in the appropriate circumstances.

The youngsters of today run can run riot and do not respect discipline as older generations do. Look at society today and see all the damage this 'new age', 'political correctness' rubbish is doing to us.

As a parent, I want to discipline my children as I see fit. I will not tolerate being lectured to by the government or anyone else!
Kurt Lee, England

there should laws to stop parents screaming senselessly at their children
TJ, England
It's good they've banned canes and belts, etc. but there should laws to stop parents screaming senselessly at their children, holding burning cigarettes over prams, not dressing kids up in warm clothes during the winter, etc. All sights commonly seen on the streets of London. This type of child abuse is so common we don't think of it as abuse.
TJ, England

Its about time that we stopped dismantling the very structure of our family and societal traditions. Corporal punishment was abolished in 1986 and we have seen a huge increase in class disruption and crime since then (although the 'liberal tendency' would never think of putting these two things together). Parents should be given support to bring children up to show respect and honesty. One part of that formula involves occasional smacking, I'm glad that for once the government has taken the right decision in these matters.
James Cooper, UK

Scandinavian countries banned smacking years ago and their societies have not degenerated into lawlessness.
Kate, UK
I am tired of so-called "parents' rights" being used as an argument for smacking. Does nobody care about children's rights to grow up without fear. From what I have seen of parents smacking children, it is usually because they are frustrated and angry (usually about something else) and lashing out at a child who cannot fight back is nothing short of cowardice. I think the real reason people oppose this legislation is that they are unsure whether they would be able to control themselves. Why should children suffer just because adults can't control their ange. Scandinavian countries banned smacking years ago and their societies have not degenerated into lawlessness; if anything their communities are caring and safe. If someone thinks that they cannot raise a child without the right to wallop them then that person should not have children, plain and simple.
Kate, UK

Using a cane, belt or other item for punishing a child should be outlawed but a swat on the backside or smacking a child (not on the face ) should be left up to the parent. The problem with young adults today is they have no fear or respect for their parents or adults. Because of these laws supposedly protecting children, children are allowed to run amuck and become disobedient with no consequences. You can see this in the schools, at home and on the streets. Look at the top story on BBC News Online today - Street crimes on the rise. Discipline should not be confused with abuse. Hitting a child is not an appropriate response for every infraction. In those cases, the child should be protected.
Leanne, USA

If the police were also allowed to clip children round the ear, then the streets would also be a safer place for all of us!
David Warburton, United Kingdom
No! Smacking should not be outlawed. Neither in my opinion should corporal punishment. No wonder the youth in this country are out of control - bring back corporal punishment and you bring schools back in control. It never did me or my brothers or sisters any harm. We are not part of mainland Europe, we are a European Island (in more ways than one) and as such our culture is naturally different. Europe does not have disruptive youths in schools. If the police were also allowed to clip children round the ear, then the streets would also be a safer place for all of us! Outlawing smacking will lead to an unruly society, where the youth have no respect for anyone and do not know how to behave.
David Warburton, United Kingdom

It never did me any harm. In my opinion the government has gone too far. Most MPs are corrupt and are interested in only pursuing their own agendas so they have no right to tell parents how they should (or shouldn't) discipline their children.
Dr. S, uk

Any person, especially children, should be free of fear of physical violence
Mikko Toivonen, Finland
All physical punishment of children over 3 years of age should be illegal. Physical punishment is an introduction to later violence. Violence towards other people is among the most serious crimes even though in many countries protection of property is considered more valuable than protection of a person. This sadly describes the values we have in this world. Punishment can be hard mentally because it after all is teaching, but any person, especially children, should be free of fear of physical violence. The right place for persons exercising physical violence of any sort is in jail and for long time.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

Absolutely not! If a child deserves a good smack or belting/caning then so be it! I was a right tearaway when I was a youngster and my parents/teachers could tell me until they were blue in the face not to do something, and would I listen? No! Whereas, given a belting or a smack (NOT a punch or a kick etc.), well then I soon wised up and would never transgress again. I'm actually grateful that I received that type of discipline as it's made me a much more respectful person today, but I will say that it does very much depend on the child in question, and does not work for all of them. It worked for me, that's all I can say, but it does seem kids are a lot more demanding, disrespectful and naughty these days. It makes me wonder whether this "PC" softly, softly approach being taken today is actually working.
Dave , UK

I think even smacking a child with your hand should be illegal. A hand or fist can do just as much damage as a slipper or cane. In fact, even more damage. I have a five year-old daughter and think that a child can be punished in other ways i.e. by being grounded, kept in their bedroom, no sweets, that would hurt a child's feelings more.
Suzanne, England

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See also:
18 Jan 00 |  UK
Parents retain right to smack
07 Jan 00 |  Education
Parents 'back corporal punishment'
20 Dec 99 |  UK
Christmas plea to end smacking

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