Smacking has returned to the headlines this week, after a Labour MP blamed the lack of corporal punishment available to parents for last summer’s riots.
David Lammy, MP and former education minister, has called for parents to be allowed to smack their children to deter them from joining gangs.
“People do feel anxious about imposing discipline on their children, whether the law will support them,” David told BBC 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics programme. “I think there ought to be some confirmation that the benefit of the doubt will always be given to parents in these matters and they should be seen as the natural figures of authority in this respect.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson waded into the debate, agreeing with David that the current law can be “confusing”.
David continued, “Parents are scared to smack their children and paranoid that social workers will get involved and take their children away.” He added that middle-class parents could threaten children with extra curricular activities or private schools, but these options are not available for poorer families.
“Parents in Tottenham have to raise their children on the 15th floor of a tower block with knives, gangs and the dangers of violent crime just outside the window,” he said.
“Obviously you don’t want to have a licence for physical abuse of for violence and that’s very important,” David added.
In 2004, Labour brought in a law that did not ban smacking outright but said it shouldn’t leave more than a slight reddening of the skin. Coronation Street recently came under fire for portraying corporal punishment, but the NSPCC approved of the soap raising awareness of the subject.
Do you think the smacking law needs more clarity?