“Because children are more vulnerable than adults, I think we do need to ensure that their rights are supported," Children's Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza said.
Parents in England will have to now think twice about raising their hands to hit their kids because they could possibly end up spending at least five years in jail if they do so, under proposals from the children’s tsar.
According to The Birmingham Mail, several places have already banned the use of physical punishment for kids, including Scotland which introduced a ban in November 2020. While Children's Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza announced she would be "supportive" of the ban being imposed in England, others have opposed the move.
While it is against the law to hit a child in England, there is a "reasonable punishment" defense if the child only sustains a "transient or trifling injury". However, this is up to a court to decide whether it applies. Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi claimed that disciplining children and how to go about it should be "left to parents". He then went on to reveal that his wife has "on occasion" given their nine-year-old daughter a "light smack on the arm" when she's being naughty.
According to Yahoo News, Zahawi told Times Radio, “My very strong view is that actually we have got to trust parents on this and parents being able to discipline their children is something that they should be entitled to do. I’ve got a young child, I’ve got a nine-year-old… and I don’t think I’ve ever smacked her but I think her mother on occasion has felt a need for a light smack on the arm if she’s being completely naughty and misbehaving."
Parents Could Face Five Years In Jail For Smacking Kids Under New Plan- eh?!! Where was that post on spankings??!! WTH in this world? It’s happening folks. Cling to Jesus. He’s coming. https://t.co/RlEBBXYDU6— Debrollins2nd (@debrollins2nd) April 21, 2022
"But even when that happens, it has to be on a very, very sort of rare occasion, and not something that we would certainly as parents want to do very often. In fact it’s much better to sit down and communicate with your child and discuss behaviour and discuss what positive behaviour looks like – and that’s how we choose to do this in the Zahawi household.”
Dame Rachel is strongly opposed to any kind of physical punishment toward children. "I absolutely abhor, and I’m against, violence of any kind against children,” she shared. “Because children are more vulnerable than adults, I think we do need to ensure that their rights are supported.”
Joanna Barrett, NSPCC Associate Head of Policy, said, "Children are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and deserve more, not less, protection from violence than adults so we welcome the Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza’s support today for a change in the law. We know from our recent poll that public attitudes to physical punishment are changing which shows how Westminster are behind the curve on this issue. The NSPCC has long campaigned to remove the outdated ‘reasonable punishment’ defence and we urge the Government to follow Scotland, Wales, Jersey and over 60 other countries to ensure children have equal protection from assault."
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Boris Jovanovic