The Association of Educational Psychologists has tabled a motion to the TUC Conference calling for smacking to be outlawed after school psychologists found that it is harmful to children’s mental health.
Presently, although corporal punishment is banned in schools, parents can “smack” or physically chastise a child as long as it is deemed “reasonable”. Psychologists though have said there are many better ways of teaching right from wrong. The Scottish Parliament is working to ban physical chastisement of children and the Welsh government is taking steps towards removing the defence of reasonable chastisement for parents.
Psychologists cite research suggesting that when force is used by parents, there are changes in their brain activity which mean the degree of force used on the child can escalate. They argue that physical chastisement also leads to a lower quality of parent-child relationship, poorer mental health in childhood and adulthood, as well as higher levels of aggression in the child and more anti-social behaviour. The biggest teaching union, the National Education Union, is seconding the motion to ban smacking.