The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is urging the governments of England and Northern Ireland to ban parents from smacking their children, following the example set by Scotland and Wales. Leading doctors argue that physical punishment is unjust, dangerous, and harmful, and it significantly increases the likelihood of children suffering from poor mental health, academic difficulties, and physical abuse.

Currently, the law in England and Northern Ireland allows parents to hit their children and claim it as “reasonable punishment.” The Royal College contends, however, that these laws are dangerously vague and create a gray area on what forms of physical punishment for children are lawful.

Professor Andrew Rowland, the college’s officer for child protection, highlighted the severe physical injuries children can sustain from smacking, which can sometimes require medical attention for bruises, open wounds, or even fractures. He emphasized that any form of physical punishment is a violation of children's rights.

Bess Herbert from the campaign group End Corporal Punishment cited numerous studies showing that smacking not only causes physical and mental harm but could also lead to poorer cognitive development, higher school dropout rates, and increased aggression and antisocial behavior in adulthood.

Joanna Barrett, the NSPCC's (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) associate head of policy, said, “All children deserve the same protection from assaults as adults.”

And Rachel de Souza, the children's commissioner for England, echoed this sentiment, stressing the importance of upholding children's rights due to their vulnerability.

Around the world, 65 other countries have likewise banned smacking, with an additional 27 more committed to following suit. This call for change aims to safeguard children's well-being and security by abolishing physical punishment as a form of discipline.


Picture: An overbearing parent lecturing a child (ChildUp & DALL-E - 2023)