Debate: Should Parents Smack Kids?


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? 


  1. this is quite an odd debate to be having. Both me and my brother were occasionally smacked as children, on occasions when it was merited.To completely rule this option out is silly, and to suggest banning it is obsered parents should raise their children how they see fit within the confines of the law.

  2. Sometimes, it is necessary, not least for a child’s own safety. There is a huge gulf between parents who occasionally slap the legs of their kids and parents who really beat their kids.

    The parents who really beat their kids aren’t bothered whether its against the law or not anyway.

    • By that logic, so can a bullet to the face.

      But the point is that it is not the violence which is important, but the fact that the child is learning the lesson.

      If there are ways of achieving the same result without violence, should they not be the methods chosen?

      • How can a bullet in the head be a long term option to improving a child’s life? Yes there are ways of achieving better behaviour, obviously. I am not advocating that all parents under all situations should smack their kids, what I am saying is that in some circumstances it is justifiable, and some kids will respond best to it.

        • The trouble is that a lot of people think like this:

          “I can honestly say that it made me a better person today. Controversial, maybe. True, definitely.”

          Meaning that rather than doing all that can be done to avoid violence, it is the first course of action.

          I just received this reply form a woman on the Telegraph article about the same topic –

          “Some do, some don’t. My daughter needed a smack to curtail bad behaviour, but my son did not. He responded to reason, where she didn’t; if she thought she would get away with it she would try, and a smack brought her back into line.
          My daughter also went through a phase of biting other children and other parents were starting to keep their offspring away from her. One day after a particularly vicious bite, I grabbed her and bit her quite hard to show her what it felt like – and that was the last time she ever bit anyone. A valuable lesson in action and consequence, plus the other kids played with her again.”

          The line “if she thought she could get away with it she would try, and a smack brought her back into line.”

          This woman attempted no other means of discipline or behaviour modification, it was ‘do as you’re told’ and straight to the a slap.

          Now, I’m not saying that smacking is not effective, what I’m saying is that it is not necessary. You say that in some cases it may be the most effective method, I’m saying prove it.

  3. Should we be attempting to “control” our children or to educate them?

    People should not hit their children unless they are happy for me to hit them. I’ve had this conversation with both family, friends and strangers.

    Violence is never right and by claiming the right to discipline your children as you see fit, you are opening the door for me to claim the right to discipline you as I see fit.

    Your children are your responsibility and your privilege, not your property.

    I hope I’m not the only one, but having raised two rounded, intelligent and hard-working little b’stards without resorting to acts of violence against them, I can tell you that Smacking is not necessary.

    • Back in my day *chuckles* we used to get hit. I can honestly say that it made me a better person today. Controversial, maybe. True, definitely.

      I do see a plethora of kids who are unruly, loud, and are not able to be controlled by their teachers. I am not at all opposed to kids getting a spank every now and then, for god’s sake, if the writers on this site argue that the state doesn’t have the right to regulate a child’s diet, then how could they argue that parents don’t know what is best for their kids? One might wonder.

        • There is law against it already it just needs enforcement.

          What needs to happen for that is the public to be made aware that children can be effectively taught without smacking.

      • You cannot ‘honestly say that’ at all. All you can do is guess. There is no way for you to predict alternative futures.

        What you can do is realise that there is no need for smacking, all that it is said to achieve can be achieved without it. Unruly kids in class are not evidence of lack of smacking, but a lack of parenting.

        I can point to two children who are exceptional and have never been smacked in order to discipline or to teach.

        And several others who smacked for the same ‘crimes’ time and time again.

        • Just because it worked for two kids, does not mean the entire process should be shelved. I know plenty of kids who would – in the long run – benefit from a smack

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