A smacking ban could have been imposed years ago – and saved children’s lives | Letters

Your editorial commending the Welsh government on its smacking ban (21 March) might have drawn attention to the NSPCC’s estimation that at least one child is killed each week in the UK, usually at the hands of a parent or carer. This appalling level of mortality most likely understates the actual figure but is undoubtedly directly connected to the fact that we have historically afforded children less protection in law.

My amendment to ensure children had the same legal protection from assault as given to adults was not accepted by the then Labour government when the 2004 Children Act was passed, and I have a vivid recollection of the prime minister, Tony Blair, telling me at the time that the proposal was “a notch too far”. I have often wondered how many of the more than 800 children killed during the near two decades since might just possibly not have lost their lives if we had introduced that very modest and quite simple reform.
David Hinchliffe
Labour MP for Wakefield, 1987-2005

It astounds me that anyone would still consider it acceptable to use physical punishment to modify children’s behaviour, and that any civilised nation would not outlaw it. It displays a lack of self-control on behalf of the adult, and an inability to convey orally to children that their behaviour is unacceptable. We used to put our children into the spare bedroom until they calmed down/apologised, or we withdrew treats, explaining why we considered what they had done was wrong. Physical violence perpetrates the mindset that aggression should be condoned.
Sharman Finlay
Portrush, County Antrim

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