Should We Relax the Anti-Smacking Laws?

The MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, seems to be the first politician to come out and openly say what most of us think, i.e. that the anti-smacking laws should be relaxed. He states that many of his constituents consider the current Children’s Act to be part of the reason for the riots last summer that started in his constituency.

MP David Lammy

Asked to explain his standpoint he said:  “Parents in Tottenham continually raise with me the real pressures of raising children, for example on the 15th floor of a tower block with knives, gangs and the dangers of violent crime just outside the window. They say they no longer feel sovereign in their own homes, and the ability to exercise their own judgement in relation to discipline and reasonable chastisement has been taken away from them”.

Good or Bad?

Originally, the Act first introduced in 1989, stated that parents may use ‘reasonable chastisement’, but in 2004 the then Labour government changed it to read that a smack may not cause reddening of the skin, bruising, swelling, or break the skin. To many the entire law was totally confusing, and most parents were scared half-to-death to offer any serious chastisement for fear the idiots in Social Services (SS) would swoop down and take their children away from them. This happened in various well-publicized cases in which the SS (apt in this context) over-enthusiastically interpreted the law, and many parents had to resort to the courts as the only means of getting their children back.

This law change, and the public’s perception of it, led to the inevitable breakdown in discipline in our children.

The Tottenham Riots 2011

Hopefully now, saner minds will work on the problem and we will get back to normal standards when it comes to bringing up children. I must admit to feeling a lot of empathy with the parents of the young tear-aways that were rioting last year. Ever since the idiotic law change of 2004 it has been next to impossible to bring up a child properly.

In 1989  the law was brought in with good intentions as means to protect children from heavy-handed parents. I know all about that for my father was a brutal man, but in the long term it didn’t do me any lasting harm and I grew up to be, some would say, an upstanding citizen.

Victoria Crombie

The catalyst for the 2004 changes was the bestial torture and brutal murder of  eight-year-old Victoria Crombie at the hands of her guardians in 2000. Such was the outcry of rage at the disgraceful treatment of the child, that calls for reform of the Children’s Act came from all sides. Unfortunately, like all politicians, they went overboard. It led to the ‘do not redden the skin’ amendment that just about everybody understood to mean you cannot smack a child. In effect that was true, for it is practically impossible to smack a child without at least a slight reddening of the skin, which also raises the question of coloured children. 

Legal or Illegal?

So now we entered the era where we are no longer allowed to discipline our children in a way they quickly understand by giving them a smack or slap on the backside. Children, being the quick learners they are, soon worked out that their parents and teachers were powerless to do anything if they misbehaved. We see the evidence all around us when we walk down the main street of any town or city and look at the current generation of teenagers. Lounging around on street corners in their hoods, often looking for someone to have a go at, and of course the ‘gang culture’ that resulted in children carrying knives and even guns for ‘self-protection’ (sure, I believe you but ten thousand others wouldn’t!). We see these animals, for I can’t think of a better word for them, causing mayhem on the streets using peaceful demonstrations as an excuse to have go at the police.  They call it fun!

Child crime has gone through the roof during the last fifteen years. We see children as young as nine and ten convicted of murder and even the raping of pensioners. And why is this? Well, for certain it’s because of the lack of discipline in today’s world brought about by this idiotic law.

The Frustration is Not Only With the Children

If David Lummy is successful and the necessary changes are made to the Children’s Act, what will this bring us? For sure, if parents are once again allowed the use ‘reasonable chastisement’ it may do some good, but also, it may be too late.

We are now entering an era where those children that escaped smacking, and therefore discipline, are the next generation of parents, and you have to ask how they will discipline their children, if at all! Hopefully the scales will once more be balanced and everyone can get back to a normal life without living in fear of our children. I live in hope!


4 Responses to “Should We Relax the Anti-Smacking Laws?”

  1. It’s not the smacking though. The laws have put fear in the hearts of the parents who wish to discipline because they love their children, and made no difference in those who simply want to cause harm and kill. You’re correct. The children hold the power now and disrespect runs rampant. Whereas as I grew up, I’d be smacked on the hand or elsewhere when I was touching something I knew I shouldn’t or talking in a manner fit for the beasts in the streets, today the children turn around and swear at their parents, punch and kick their elders, spit in the faces of those who wish them no harm and wreak havoc on the innocent. Children are not as fragile as one would think and the great of people in this world have had very rough childhoods. How many great minds do you see around you that have grown up pampered and spoiled? The most important people, the ones who make a change in this awful world, and the ones who will be remembered 100 years from now, saw the most terrible of lives, filled with pain and suffering. Few had a passable childhood in which they retained some semblance of their innocence. For the most part, our current image of the children in this world is an illusion. We are creating monsters because we love them too much to discipline them. We are creating our own heartache, and someday, we will understand that what we did was wrong, no matter how much the laws and Social services said they were the correct path to take. Parents can’t even yell at their children any longer, for fear that they would be named unfit guardians. The laws, well-intentioned as they may have been, have reduced society into a mass of uncivilized adolescents.


    • Hi Tamar,
      Nice to have you back. To be honest I think you said all that needs to be said. The big problem now is how do we find our way back? Can we?


      • I’m not sure we can. I take Child and Youth Care classes that focus on the fragility of children, and while I will agree that no child should be witness to torture and suffering, I will also point out that the notion of the meaning of childhood has changed drastically and the idea that an individual is born pure and angelic has been ingrained in the mind of society, driving the seemingly unending obsession with preserving the angelic nature of the children. I would actually suggest looking into societies that have harsher discipline, where a child is viewed as a miniature adult, to be shaped into an ideal member of society. Take what is good from those societies, many of which exist from the Middle to the Far East. It took decades to create what we have now, and I know that it would take decades to find the perfect equilibrium, but i do believe it’s possible.


      • Hi Tamar,
        To be honest, while protection from brutal parents is a definite requirement, I have always believed the old method of discipline worked perfectly. It certainly did for my generation where all children were taught from birth who the boss was (i.e. the parents), and children quickly learnt not only discipline, but just as important, respect for their elders, property, and other people. This is what is missing today in our permissive age, where the child is the boss in the home, and has no respect for anything or anyone. There is nothing fragile about the children of today, and the quicker parents learn that the better. It is true that a child comes into this world without sin, but when it gets the upper hand it very soon learns. We need to get back to the old standards of child upbringing, but will it ever happen? Sadly, I doubt it.
        Best Regards,


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