Children need rights and protection
By Rosalind Robson
At the beginning of July the House of Lords voted on the Children's Bill. They debated whether or not there should be a ban on all physical punishment of children - in schools and in the home. This prompted a huge public debate. The Lords, in the end, voted to allow parents to continue to smack their children. The law is now both confusing and more to the point continues to be iniquitous and oppressive to children.
The Lords voted for the amendment which will keep in force the provision which allows parents to claim, in a court of law, that they used 'reasonable chastisement' when they assaulted their child. The Lords merely debated the terms of the word 'reasonable'.
Parents can smack, but not too hard.
Children are still to be treated as lesser beings. They do not have the same protection from assault as that enjoyed by adults - although they are the people who most need protection... from adults!
Eleven countries in the world give children equal protection. Many more are introducing similar legislation. Why is British society so backward in its attitudes to children?
Partly it is the the spinelessness of this Government and its general social conservatisim. In other countries where the 'equal protection' legislation has been introduced it was unpopular at first. Public opinion changed over the course of time, especially when the legislation was not used against every parent for every instance of smacking.
Perhaps the attitudes on this issue - children need 'tough discipline' as if they were animals to be 'trained' - are also down to the continuing influence of the various churches in our society: from the bishops who sit in the House of Lords, to the increasing influence of church schools in education.
Whatever, the 'reasons' behind legalising the smacking of children are idiotic and bear no relationship to modern, rational ideas of a child's physical, social or emotional development. The pettyfogging justifications for 'little taps' and 'short, sharp loving smacks' are a disgrace. Children need and deserve the protection of adult society. They have a right not to be physically assaulted. The Children's Bill is not yet law - keep up the campaign to outlaw reaction!