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Saturday, 13 October, 2001, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Tourist arrested for smacking child
Smacking laws are being reviewed in Scotland
A French tourist has been arrested and charged by Scottish police for smacking his son in the street, according to newspaper reports

The Daily Telegraph said the man from Ons-en-Bray, near Beauvais, was charged with minor assault at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on 24 September after spending two nights in a police cell.

The incident is reported to have sparked controversy back in France, where the deputy mayor of the man's home town has called for the charges to be dropped.

Lothian and Borders Police confirmed that a man had appeared in court in connection with smacking a child.

There is a difference between smacking a child on the bottom and maltreating a child

Jan Hoornweg, deputy mayor of Ons-en-Bray
The newspaper reports that the Frenchman denied punching and kicking his son outside an Indian restaurant in Edinburgh.

It said that the eight-year-old boy was taken to hospital after the incident but an examination found he had not been injured.

The Frenchman's wife is reported to have said: "The way we were treated was incredible. When somebody smacks a child in France no one intervenes.

"If you see a child misbehaving with nothing being done, you say that the child has bad parents."

The decision is also reported to have provoked widespread disquiet in France where local newspapers and local government officials have called for the charges to be dropped.

'This was normal'

The newspaper reports that the deputy mayor of Ons-en-Bray, Jan Hoornweg, said the family was considering legal action over the incident.

"There is a difference between smacking a child on the bottom and maltreating a child," he is quoted as saying.

"The child was annoying everybody in the restaurant and, in order not to embarrass the other customers, he was taken outside to be told to behave.

Lothian and Borders Police
Police said a Frenchman appeared in court
"He was give a smack but only one. Even the child explained to the police that this was normal."

Mr Hoornweg said his compatriot had been "treated as a real criminal" and the family's doctor could testify that the child had never been abused.

The tone for sanctions against smacking children in Scotland was set two years ago when a Lanarkshire teacher was convicted of assault for smacking his daughter in a dentist's surgery.

More recently the Scottish Executive has unveiled draft legislation that would place further constraints on how far parents can go with physical force to control their children.

The move has been condemned by the Scottish Conservatives, who say it is unnecessary, and that most parents know where the line lies between discipline and abuse.

See also:

06 Sep 01 | Scotland
Groups split over smacking ban
08 Feb 00 | Scotland
Smacking paper published
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