Government to ban smacking outside the family

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The Government has announced its intention to ban physical punishment of children in any form of tuition or care outside of the family following recommendations from the Chief Adviser on Child Safety, Sir Roger Singleton.

Current legislation means that teachers in schools are banned from using any form of physical punishment, but those who tutor outside of school, including in part-time educational and learning settings and evening and weekend faith schools, are not covered by the ban.

But following Sir Roger's report Physical punishment: improving consistency and protection, the Government has decided that physical punishment of children will be banned in all forms of tuition, care and supervision outside of the family.

Sir Roger Singleton's report makes three recommendations to the Government:

  1. The current ban on physical punishment in schools and other children's settings should be extended to include any form of advice, guidance, teaching, training, instruction, worship, treatment or therapy and to any form of care or supervision which is carried out other than by a parent or member of the child's own family or household.
  2. The Government should continue to promote positive parenting strategies and effective behaviour management techniques directed towards eliminating the use of smacking. Parents who disapprove of smacking should make this clear to others who care for their children.
  3. The development of appropriate safeguarding policies in informal education and learning organisations should continue to be promoted. Legal changes which flow from adoption of these recommendations will need to be communicated effectively.

Responding to the report, Children's Secretary Ed Balls said: "Sir Roger's report makes it absolutely clear that a child should not be smacked by anyone outside their family. I believe this is a sensible and proportionate approach.

"The Government does not condone smacking, nor do we want to criminalise parents who choose to discipline their children with a mild smack. We know that the majority of parents agree with this view."

Sir Roger Singleton has also recommended that the Government should further promote the importance of child protection and safeguarding policies and practices for more informal educational and learning organisations.