As we report today, the Government wants to make it illegal throughout the United Kingdom for childminders to smack children in their care. The antiquated defence of 'reasonable chastisement' will no longer be admissible - except for parents. We welcome the belated recognition that this 140-year-old justification for hitting young children has left Britain with one of the worst child-cruelty records in Europe and has offered carte blanche to sadists and abusers. But it is feeble of the Government not to take the argument to its logical conclusion and outlaw the hitting of children by anyone.
Social workers and police have long complained that the 'reasonable chastisement' defence prevents them from intervening in cases of parental abuse, from which, shockingly, one child a week still dies in the UK. In Sweden, in the 10 years following a ban on smacking, not a single child died as a result of parental physical abuse.
Striking other adults (whether 'reasonable chastisement' or not) is unlawful. Why then do we persist in finding it acceptable to visit violence on children? It is time for an outright ban. Hitting children is never right.
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