Is smacking a child any business of government

To smack or not to smack, and how hard and with what?  That is the dilemma faced by the school system and parents of children both school age and younger.  Britain is one of the few European countries that have not yet outlawed physical punishment in the form of smacking.

The problem arises from the difference of opinion about just how much government should interfere or be involved with the way in which parents choose to discipline their children.

It has been established that teachers in public and private schools or nurseries cannot smack a student for any reason, and the proposal has also been made to ban smacking in other educational settings including religious instruction.  Advocates of ‘reasonable’ physical punishment say that swatting a child on the backside, which is the usual parental option, is not harmful in any way and is in fact necessary to enforce discipline in unruly children.

One of the strongest proponents of a no-smacking law is the deputy secretary general of the Council of Europe, Ms de Boer-Buquiccio.  She believes that a legal ban on smacking a child will not undermine parental authority, nor will it negate the use of discipline imposed by teachers or parents.  She says it is a matter of changing disciplinary measures to non-violent methods, which would be more effective in encouraging good behaviour in the long term.

Others have voiced the opinion that the laws as they stand and the new proposals are confusing, impossible to enforce, and possibly a major infringement on the rights of citizens.  To some it seems like too much intervention in matters that are not (or should not) be any of the government’s business.

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