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No backing for smacking

It was disappointing and somewhat surprising to hear Tottenham MP David Lammy saying in so many words that last summer's riots could have been prevented if parents were allowed to smack their children without fear of prosecution. Mr Lammy would like to see a return to the days before the defence of 'reasonable chastisement' was abolished, as he says his constituents now feel they can't use physical punishment to discipline their children in case social workers step in and they might be prosecuted. Where do you start to take issue with his arguments? The fact is that smacking children is still not illegal in the UK, as it is in so many other places. The changes in the law made a little progress, but the residents of Tottenham can smack their children if they want. Mr Lammy talks further of 'working class parents' feeling that they have lost control of their children. But surely the solution is not to relax safeguards against children being harmed. Any parent, whatever their class, only uses physical punishment at the end of their tether, when anger has taken over. Therefore, it is a failure of discipline, not a desirable form of discipline. Encouraging parents to smack children will not stop riots. It is far more likely to foster children who believe that violence and physical force is the way to sort out differences of opinion. Parents need to be supported to teach their children to behave in an appropriate way with firmness and love. This does not include smacking, slapping, beating or any other forms of physical punishment. The UK needs to come into line with other countries who see smacking as outmoded and unacceptable. Violence is no solution to social unrest, so let's not backtrack on smacking

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