The Education Secretary opposed the move, claiming discipline should be "left to parents."
Parents in England could possibly end up in jail for smacking their kids. The Sun reports that they could face up to five years in prison if they smack their kids, under proposals from the children’s tsar. The proposed change in the law is receiving mixed opinions. Many places are already banning 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.
All children deserve the same protection as adults have; to be safe from harm, including physical punishment. Today, Wales joins Scotland as it finally bans smacking children & removes the legal defence of ‘reasonable punishment’- which unbelievably still applies in England!— Steve Chalke (@SteveChalke) March 21, 2022
While it is unlawful to smack a child in England, there is a "reasonable punishment" defense if the child only sustains a "transient or trifling injury". This, however, 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 admitted his wife has "on occasion" given their nine-year-old daughter a "light smack on the arm" when she's being naughty.
Opinions are divided over whether smacking children should be allowed as calls to forbid it are made https://t.co/0ldauY2Cgj— The Chronicle (@ChronicleLive) April 21, 2022
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. 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 told Times Radio. “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."