ComRes poll suggests little support for proposed ‘smacking ban’

A bill brought forward by Green MSP John Finnie which would criminalise parents for chastising their children appears to have little public support.

According to a recent ComRes poll, only 14% of the 1,010 adults polled actually support the proposed ban, 74% said that parental smacking of children should not be a criminal offence, and 75% said that they agreed with the statement that ‘it should be the role of parents and guardians to decide whether or not to smack their children’.

It is quite clear that, according to this poll, the vast majority of people believe that the existing law is sufficient in terms of protecting children from unreasonable chastisement and there is no need to alter the position. Yet the proposed bill reportedly has the support of the Greens, the SNP and Scottish Labour in Holyrood.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights is relevant to the debate on criminalising parents for disciplining their children. It states that: everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

Yet, Mr Finnie has said in support of the bill that “We believe physical punishment can have negative effects on children which can last long after the physical pain has died away. We support positive parenting through, for example, funding for family support services.” Surprisingly, he also said that his “proposal will give children in Scotland the necessary protections to flourish in a healthy environment and encourage the building of stronger relationships between children, their parents and others who care for them.”

This last point is certainly questionable and would seem to suggest that rather than parents, it is in fact the State that knows best when it comes to family relationships. It is not the role of the state to interfere in how parents go about building a strong relationship with their children, except in the most exceptional circumstances.  


Image: Sunday Post