Scottish parents are being cautioned against lending their support to a proposed ban on smacking children by family campaigners in New Zealand. Smacking has been outlawed in New Zealand for almost a decade.
In an article for Scotland on Sunday today, national director of the New Zealand Family First Organisation, Bob McCroskie, warns that the ban has not been a success.
“The problem is that politicians and anti-smacking lobby groups linked good parents who smacked their children with child abusers – a notion roundly rejected by families,” he states.
“A law change would also communicate the message that politicians don’t trust Scottish parents to raise their own children responsibly.
“Ultimately, as we have observed, the supporters of smacking bans are influenced by political ideology rather than common sense, good science and sound policy-making.
“Criminalising good parents who simply want to raise law-abiding and responsible citizens is bad law-making.”
Parents in New Zealand now report they increasingly face threats from younger children to report them if they are smacked. About a quarter of parents now say they are less confident in tackling unacceptable behaviour of children.
At present, smacking is generally allowed in Scotland under the defence of “reasonable chastisement”. A growing body of children’s campaign groups and academics want to see this defence removed.
Rev David Robertson, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, said he was opposed to any form of abusive behaviour towards children, but added that an outright ban on smacking was “over the top”.
He added: “To criminalise parents who may be good and loving people and are only looking out for their children is just daft and is just another example of the moral thought police approach.”
“It seems to me that the evidence for a smacking ban is very limited. It’s something you should do rarely, but in some instances you could argue it may be more abusive not to discipline a child.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said last night: “We do not support the physical punishment of children. In line with our Parenting Strategy we will be developing comprehensive, practical advice on different approaches to support parents in managing their children’s behaviour.”