Chris Grayling, the ‘Justice’ Secretary admitted recently to the press that he used to smack his kids. “You chastise children when they are bad, as my parents did me,” Grayling told the Mail on Sunday.
Haywards Solicitors summarise the current law of what parents can and cannot do to their children:
‘The present position is set out in The Children Act 2004, which came into force on 15 January 2005. Under this Act, it is illegal to smack children hard enough to leave a mark, with parents who transgress facing up to 5 years’ imprisonment if they are convicted. Physical punishment, other than ‘reasonable chastisement’ is thus against the law, with a smack which leads to bruising, grazing, cuts or swellings deemed to be unacceptable. However, there are those who maintain that this merely encourages some parents to favour assaults which are unlikely to cause visible marks, but which may risk causing more serious injury, such as blows to the head or shaking.
‘A recent case before the Crown Court in Manchester, considered under the new law, dealt with a stressed-out mother who slapped her daughter in a Kentucky Fried Chicken shop after the child refused to eat and ran around annoying other customers. The mother was convicted of Common Assault but acquitted of the more serious charge of ABH. The ‘reasonable punishment’ of a child, which section 58 of the Children Act 2004 permits, had clearly been exceeded in this instance.
‘It is worth noting that ‘over chastisement’ of a child by a parent may also be a breach of the child’s human rights if it amounts to inhuman or degrading treatment.’
Debate: Do you think that the most effective way of controlling children is by smacking them?