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Abolish state-sanctioned corporal punishment

Comment 1st July 2010

Abolish the common law defence of "reasonable chastisement" that allows parents (and some other adults acting in loco parentis) to use corporal punishment against children.

Why does this matter?

They say that a society can be judged according to the way in which it treats its children. If so, the UK clearly lags behind most European countries in approving children for common assault at the hands of adults around them, both legally and socially. Corporal punishment is completely abhorrent and unjustifiable, moreover, it has been demonstrated to be unfair, damaging to the child's mental and physical health and a threat to the child's inalienable freedoms.

Naturally, there will always be those who claim that 'hitting' and 'smacking' are permissable and that "it never did me any harm". The fact that it has turned them into cruel and embittered adults who not only advocate the beating of other people's children but probably subjected their own offspring to the same, appalling treatment, never occurs to them.

There is no evidence whatsoever that giving children equal protection before the law will lead to the implosion of society and the collapse of law and order as some suggest – all these arguments tend, at best, to be badly thought-through and spurious. Parents from deprived areas are the ones most likely to be liberal in administering corporal punishment, although these are the same areas which statistically have higher incidences of youth crime. Indeed, it can be argued that by subjecting a child to physical punishment a parent is implicitly condoning the use of violence; a fact that is unfortunately borne out by research showing a link between boys who were regularly beaten and men who go on to commit domestic violence. It is argued by many that corporal punishment is in itself a type of 'domestic violence', albeit one that never receives as much publicity (and disgust) as its counterparts.

Therefore, not only is corporal ineffective but it is cruel, violent and deprives a child of the most basic right to some form of physical integrity over their own bodies.


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