Recently the Children’s Commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson, has expressed her view that the law should be reformed to ensure that parents are banned from smacking their children. The current laws prohibit adults from smacking, pushing or shoving other adults and indeed protect pets from violence. However the protection provided to children by the law on assault and cruelty is qualified by the common law defence of reasonable chastisement. The defence of reasonable chastisement allows parents to physically punish their child provided it does not escalate beyond reasonable chastisement. Therefore if parents use physical punishment that is considered to be reasonable chastisement, the parent cannot be convicted of assault. In this article I will examine the scope of the defence of reasonable chastisement, consider its conformity with international law and assess whether the current standards are providing appropriate protection of children’s human rights in 21st century Britain.
|Published - Apr 2014