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The Children's Commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson, has called for a ban on parents smacking their children.
Ms Atkinson told the Independent newspaper that the law gave pets and adults more entitlement to protection than children.
She wants to see a total ban - which could parents facing criminal action if they break the ban.
Currently the law says mild smacking is allowed but any smacks which causes obvious bruising, grazes, scratches, swellings or cuts are not allowed.
Ms Atkinson told the Independent “personally, having been a teacher, and never having had an issue where I’d need to use physical punishment, I believe we should move to ban it. Because in law you are forbidden from striking another adult, and from physically chastising your pets, but somehow there is a loophole around the fact that you can physically chastise your child. It’s counter-evidential.”
Phillip Noyes, head of strategy and development at the NSPCC, backed her call for a ban and said: “It would not be intended to criminalise good parents but to put into law what more and more parents are already moving towards – finding better ways than smacking to discipline their children.”
However the Government said it stood by its policy on smacking and does not “wish to criminalise parents for issuing a mild smack”.
Physical punishment is banned in all early years settings, maintained and independent schools, in children's homes and in local authority foster homes.