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Smacking Your Children

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 19 Sep 2020 |
 
Law Smack Child Discipline Assault

You may already know that it is illegal for a teacher to smack your child. But a change in the law will mean that they are able to use 'reasonable force' to restrain children if they are being disruptive, committing a crime, harming someone or damaging something. The changes will also give teachers a new general right to search children on school premises. This is in order to search for anything banned by the school.

Smacking Your Own Child

It is not illegal for a parent to hit their child as long as the ‘smack’ amounts to ‘reasonable punishment’. There is, therefore, a difference between punishment and what can feasibly be termed ‘abuse’. Unreasonable punishment is classed as a smack that leaves a mark on the child, or the use of an implement to hit the child, such as a belt or cane. A parent can give another person consent to use reasonable punishment on their child, such as a babysitter or grandparent.

Criminal Offences

So where do you draw the line between assault – a criminal offence – and reasonable punishment? And what happens if the discipline is seen as Child Cruelty in criminal legal terms? Common assault is chargeable by the Crown Prosecution Service if it amounts to scratches, minor bruising, grazes, red skin, a black eye or superficial cuts.

Actual bodily harm could be a broken or lost tooth, broken nose, minor cuts (more than merely superficial), a loss of consciousness, serious bruising, or minor bone fractures, as well as emotional damage that amounts to a psychiatric injury.

Grievous bodily harm requires a compound fracture, injuries that cause a substantial amount of blood loss (requiring a transfusion), a visual disfigurement, injuries that result in permanent disability, or ‘wounding’ that breaks both the inner and outer layers of the skin. Again, this could include psychiatric injury.

Grievous bodily harm with intent is the most serious (before attempted murder) and carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. This would be the right charge if a parent wounded their child with intent, unlawfully, maliciously and intentionally, or caused grievous bodily harm to another person.

Will Smacking Be Banned?

The NSPCC and other children’s charities have been rigorously campaigning for a total ban on smacking. This has not yet come in to force and is unlikely to do so for the foreseeable future. It would also be very hard to enforce within private homes, and reinforces recent government criticism about the ‘nanny state’. Views are divided, but critics of the current law say that it violates the rights of a child not to have recourse to having suffered an assault.

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If you are a child and you are going to be speaking with a child care worker make sure that you have someone that you trust with you or that the interview is recorded so there is chance that anyone can put words in your mouth and the truth should never be distorted! To make a case and it dose happen so please always say the truth not what you think someone wants to hear !
Be aware - 16-Aug-20 @ 7:33 PM
Dear chocolate mouth, I read your message and it made me so upset. All I know is that you are a lovely person and deserve to be treated with love and respect. Children need a safe environment provided by their parents. Go to the police and report your dad. Speak the truth. Speak your truth. Do it for you and for your siblings. Always know your beautiful worth even when others try to bring you down. You know deep down it s not true. At times when we live in such a setting you may come to have low self esteem but please know that you deserve love and respect. Go to the police please. I will pray for you.
Monica - 26-Jun-20 @ 10:40 PM
Chocolate mouth- please please go to the police/ social services- your dad’s behaviour is totally unacceptable, wrong and illegal. I’m heartbroken to hear what your dad is doing. Keep a diary of what he is doing and also the triggers- all of that helps as evidence. Don’t be afraid of speaking up- we keep doing it and people keep getting away with it.
Anita - 12-Jun-20 @ 3:47 PM
I am a 14yr old girl that lives in the UK, I've come here because recently in lockdown my dad had been getting rly angry at me for no reason, me and my sister have to do the washing up everyday, it was my turn, he called me down to do it n I went down a hour later, I was walking around my sitting room just looking out the window when he screams at me to go do it, I said I'm doing it now I was just looking out the window, he grabs me and drags me into the kitchen n hits me really hard in the face and pushes me into the fridge and pulls my hair out n punches me, I didn't understand why he was so angry so I said why are you so angry I was coming down to do it, then he hits me again in the face and takes me to the sink and pushes my head under the water, my mum was at work n idk if I should tell her, is this ok to do ?
Summer - 9-Jun-20 @ 5:52 PM
I’m almost 13 and my dad slams me to the floor and starts slapping me vigorously. He won’t stop until I say sorry but it’s for simple little things. I think that he favours my older sister more then me because he never does it to her and always says that she does more than me which isn’t true. I’m only young and i cry every night feeling depressed with no emotion. My whole family favours my sister more as well apart from my auntie which I can rely on but we rarely talk over the phone. Today my dad shouted for no reason at me while I was eating my food and he said “you are the most laziest b**tch I know” this made me feel unstable as my own dad would say that about me. Please can someone help me out and reply to this comment so I know what to do in future
Chocolate mouth - 22-May-20 @ 8:44 PM
My dad came back to our place again after he left his country to go back here. I didn't want him to go back because me, my brother, and my mom are scared of him because he has a bipolar and temperate attitudes that pop out of nowhere. Our dad gets mad at the three of us on little things like where are we going at night or why are you talking when I'm talking or why didn't you clean the house, when we do those silly little mistakes he gets mad at us and starts yelling, slapping his own daughter, scratching the head of my brother, and kicking us out of our own house. I'm tired of this situation and daily lifestyle every single day. I always pray to God for him to change but he never does because he smokes cigarettes everyday 24/7 and gets mad right after he smokes. He mostly focuses on me his own daughter,main target to get mad at, makes me cry, slap me, scratches my face, drags and pulls my hair in the floor to the living room, spills the water in front of my face, makes me stay outside the house for 1 hour sometimes almost 3 hours during night. I am tired of him doing this to me, he clearly has mind problems because of his 30 years of smoking and he's only 43 years old. He doesn't want me to and smile, laugh, and live life to the fullest. Maybe he needs to go to rehab for his attitude to me, i clearly dont want trouble but he makes it think i want to do trouble. I'm confused and scared of him everyday of my teenage life. I'm a growing teenager that needs to stay safe at home.
Runner - 20-Apr-20 @ 12:38 PM
My sister has an 11 year old daughter who has massive temper tantrums and hit her mum if she does not get her own way. The police have been called to report a common assault against her daughter and they don’t do anything and now the daughter thinks she is untouchable. Social workers are not involved and they have made matters worse by suggesting that they have mother and daughter bonding. Me sister does not hit her and I was wondering if when my sister gets hit by her daughter can she defend herself by hitting back.
Mark - 7-Mar-20 @ 4:39 PM
Hey so my parents occasionally slap me as a result of bad behaviour, rarely my mum bet my dad does it the most and i am a young teen female and I am not quite sure if it counts as abuse. It can leave a red mark and sometimes kinda what looks like irritated skin and 'goose bumps'. I read somewhere that where I live its illegal to hit your child above the neck but he flicks behind my ears and head. I am not sure anymore and I love him and my mum a lot but he verbally calls me names and swears a lot more than mildly. this is usually in the heat of an argument but the small things are in a little small disagreement. thanks!
Anonymous - 18-Nov-19 @ 8:20 AM
hi my wife was on the phone to my gradchildren mother and she told her and i heard her on the phone that she punched her 10y old hard and was worried that her daughter would tell her teacher.. the one that was punched is not my grandchild but i have 2 young ones age 3 to 5 by her .. i dont know if i should report it due to backlash i would get .. my wife works for a Charity against child bullying- abuse and i said she has i responsibility to protect , but my wife is good friends with the mother and not the grandchildren grandmother as this is my second marriage. I think if she can hit her eldest in temper then there is a possibility she might hurt the little ones . many thanks
devildog - 18-Jul-19 @ 8:39 AM
hi my wife was on the phone to my gradchildren mother and she told her and i heard her on the phone that she punched her 10y old hard and was worried that her daughter would tell her teacher.. the one that was punched is not my grandchild but i have 2 young ones age 3 to 5 by her .. i dont know if i should report it due to backlash i would get .. my wife works for a Charity against child bullying- abuse and i said she has i responsibility to protect , but my wife is good friends with the mother and not the grandchildren grandmother as this is my second marriage. I think if she can hit her eldest in temper then there is a possibility she might hurt the little ones . many thanks
devildog - 18-Jul-19 @ 8:38 AM
Is it illegal for a mum to hit their 15 year old female daughter with a slipper and it leave a bruise??
G - 10-Jun-19 @ 9:01 PM
would being hit with a wooden hairbrush be illigal?
galaxiewolf - 3-Nov-18 @ 7:31 AM
When Iwas a child in the 70's my mother hit me if I was really naughty which was rare which as an adult I felt was justified at the time. I thought I would take the same approach to parenting, until my husband started hitting me. I was eventually hospitalised after my husband attacked me. Now I know that no amount of violence is acceptable in any situation. If I hit my daughter for doing wrong I would be no better than her abusive Dad. If he ever hit her I would go straight to the police. Violence against another human being whatever the relationship is wrong!
daffy - 11-Sep-18 @ 7:03 PM
I have 3 children and they go their dads every weekend. My youngest has come home with a red slap mark on her leg which occurred some three/four hours beforehand. Her father straight away said he did it. It was punishment for accidentally hitting her sister in the face with something after she had been told several times not to. To me the punishment does not fit the crime, my children get the occasional smack but never as hard to leave a mark and to be honest it’s not something I tend to do often. I find removing toys and early nights work for me. The problem is this happened Saturday and it’s now Monday and the mark is still there and bruised. It’s the 2nd time it’s happened. I don’t like to admit it but I don’t know what to do as I’m scared of him myself. I feel utterly useless, my youngest has behaviour issues and she is worse after she has been with him. My 9 year old felt like she wanted to defend her younger sibling and was upset that she had to endure daddy hitting my youngest. If I had my way he wouldn’t see them at all. I feel like I’m neglecting them by making them go to his when they have all stated they don’t want to go anymore. Advice please!
80schild - 9-Jul-18 @ 2:49 PM
I have 3 children and they go their dads every weekend. My youngest has come home with a red slap mark on her leg which occurred some three/four hours beforehand. Her father straight away said he did it. It was punishment for accidentally hitting her sister in the face with something after she had been told several times not to. To me the punishment does not fit the crime, my children get the occasional smack but never as hard to leave a mark and to be honest it’s not something I tend to do often. I find removing toys and early nights work for me. The problem is this happened Saturday and it’s now Monday and the mark is still there and bruised. It’s the 2nd time it’s happened. I don’t like to admit it but I don’t know what to do as I’m scared of him myself. I feel utterly useless, my youngest has behaviour issues and she is worse after she has been with him. My 9 year old felt like she wanted to defend her younger sibling and was upset that she had to endure daddy hitting my youngest. If I had my way he wouldn’t see them at all. I feel like I’m neglecting them by making them go to his when they have all stated they don’t want to go anymore. Advice please!
80schild - 9-Jul-18 @ 2:27 PM
I have 3 children and they go their dads every weekend. My youngest has come home with a red slap mark on her leg which occurred some three/four hours beforehand. Her father straight away said he did it. It was punishment for accidentally hitting her sister in the face with something after she had been told several times not to. To me the punishment does not fit the crime, my children get the occasional smack but never as hard to leave a mark and to be honest it’s not something I tend to do often. I find removing toys and early nights work for me. The problem is this happened Saturday and it’s now Monday and the mark is still there and bruised. It’s the 2nd time it’s happened. I don’t like to admit it but I don’t know what to do as I’m scared of him myself. I feel utterly useless, my youngest has behaviour issues and she is worse after she has been with him. My 9 year old felt like she wanted to defend her younger sibling and was upset that she had to endure daddy hitting my youngest. If I had my way he wouldn’t see them at all. I feel like I’m neglecting them by making them go to his when they have all stated they don’t want to go anymore. Advice please!
80schild - 9-Jul-18 @ 9:45 AM
Can you hit a child with a solid gold ring on your hand.
Cole - 12-Jun-18 @ 3:14 AM
That is just awful so you did the right thing to get away from him. Nobody has to ever endure anything that makes them unhappy or is abusive. I grew up in a controlling home too so I totally understand how awful it makes you feel. What is good though is that it never dictates the rest of your life or who you become. In fact it makes you all the more determined to be in a happy environment and to do well in life. Good for you for getting away from that life!!!
Alistener - 1-Jun-18 @ 9:39 PM
I’m an LSA at a primary school, I work with my 3 year old in the same class all day, last Wednesday she was being particularly challenging and not listening to myself I asked for 2 other co workers to help me with her to which they both wouldn’t. In the end I finished my day to which she ran away from me so I caught her and tapped her to make her listen to me. My head of year saw and has reported me to the head teacher who in turn has reported me to social services as they say I used excessive force. I was on school premasis but there were no pupils or parents around and it was my own daughter. I’m now facing loosing my job. Where do I stand?
Mrsfaz - 26-May-18 @ 9:08 PM
My daughter lives with her father primarily. She recently had become depressed and withdrawn. When I asked her what was wrong she told me that her father has been slapping her in the face and using swear words at her. She is nine and says she has considered running away. I left her father because he was demeaning and abusive and now she is living in it too. What can I do? I live in WA
Ep - 24-May-18 @ 5:08 AM
TJ - Your Question:
I've been physically smacked by my parents all my life while being called all sorts of swear words which has affected my mental health a lot while having my ribs punched straggled by my dad when I was eating food and started to choke on it to then be thrown in my room along with having my head banged into a door and I'm now 17 with it still happening I have 2 younger brothers who get beaten if they do something wrong like not walking my dog when he's supposed to do and I'm fearing that it will only be getting worse what should I do as I've almost lashed out at my parents before but I know that's wrong.

Our Response:
Contact Childline on 080 1111 and tell them about your own experiences and those of your younger siblings.
LawAndParents - 21-May-18 @ 10:40 AM
I've been physically smacked by my parents all my life while being called all sorts of swear words which has affected my mental health a lot while having my ribs punched straggled by my dad when i was eating food and started to choke on it to then be thrown in my room along with having my head banged into a door and i'm now 17 with it still happening i have 2 younger brothers who get beaten if they do something wrong like not walking my dog when he's supposed to do and i'm fearing that it will only be getting worse what should I do as I've almost lashed out at my parents before but I know that's wrong.
TJ - 18-May-18 @ 6:02 PM
Hi, 2 days back my 5 yo son was playing with me, kind of pushing me in fun. And I have ankylosing spondylitis, an autoimmune of joints. I was in pain and telling him to stop but he dint listened. I lost my cool and slapped on his both cheeks, now he has got my 3 fingers mark on face. I said sorry to him. He is very nice child and we both are like friends but this mark is worrying me as we are not in UK for permanent and here I have heard child is taken away from you in some cases. Could you pls help. I haven't send him to school for 2 days.pls guide.
Nak - 9-May-18 @ 9:20 AM
Unknown - Your Question:
My daughter was given chores as a punishment for lying, stealing and hurting people. We have also got her counselling and help for why she done it. Yesterday she started writing nasty stuff down on paper to upset me and wouldn't do her chore. My partner took the papa way from her and said that it's not nice and there is no need for it and he would give her her pen etc once she was done with her chore. She then attacked him, she was punching and kicking him and he tried to restrain her but couldn't. I'm in a wheelchair and tried to pull her away to stop, she then beat me up. She is 15 and due to bullying we sent her to martial arts so she could protect herself, we never thought she would ever use in on us. She has said a simple sorry and has stayed in her room since. I know it sounds horrible but I actually don't want to see her at all atm. I want her to be OK and will never stop helping her but I don't know what to do about her hurting me. I will be bed bound for a long time due to this, any advice on how to help her and stop her doing this.

Our Response:
Talk to school staff and/or your GP. They will be able to refer her to further counselling, therapy etc. Perhaps there is something worrying her a great deal to make her behave this way and you will also need to rule out any involvement with drugs etc.
LawAndParents - 8-May-18 @ 2:21 PM
My daughter was given chores as a punishment for lying, stealing and hurting people. We have also got her counselling and help for why she done it. Yesterday she started writing nasty stuff down on paper to upset me and wouldn't do her chore. My partner took the papa way from her and said that it's not nice and there is no need for it and he would give her her pen etc once she was done with her chore. She then attacked him, she was punching and kicking him and he tried to restrain her but couldn't. I'm in a wheelchair and tried to pull her away to stop, she then beat me up. She is 15 and due to bullying we sent her to martial arts so she could protect herself, we never thought she would ever use in on us. She has said a simple sorry and has stayed in her room since. I know it sounds horrible but I actually don't want to see her at all atm. I want her to be OK and will never stop helping her but I don't know what to do about her hurting me. I will be bed bound for a long time due to this,any advice on how to help her and stop her doing this.
Unknown - 6-May-18 @ 11:12 AM
To the user called nameless I hope I can talk to you what you have been through is very smiler to my story your not alone and I would love to talk to you you made me cry and I hope your happy and you are beautiful the way you are and don’t tell anyone tell you otherwise please if you can reply and maybe we can talk
Rose1234 - 3-May-18 @ 9:18 PM
My son (5) has come home telling me his dad has slapped him, to cut a long story short, the school took over with questioning my son & referred it to social services. They rang me basically saying no further action is needed as it doesnt meet their threshold. They also said as theres an order in place, i cant just stop him from going (i wouldnt want to but also cant allow this) and would need to seek legal advice if it continues. It was left that they will send him a letter asking him to contact them as he was away. I rang them on mon & no one called back so chased it up today to advise that he was slapped on his last visit. She has now reopened a case & but they havent spoken to my ex & she said she needs to check with admin if they sent the letter (it doesnt sound like they did). Kids are due to go tmrw & i am very unsure of what to do?
Singlemum - 12-Apr-18 @ 9:31 PM
Leah - Your Question:
My mum smacks and hits me around the face everyday and I can’t take anymore

Our Response:
You should tell a teacher or trusted adult about this, or call Childline
LawAndParents - 9-Apr-18 @ 1:55 PM
my mum smacks and hits me around the face everyday and I can’t take anymore
Leah - 7-Apr-18 @ 5:54 PM
is my mam allowed to smack me across the head coz i dropped something on the floor
unicorn2000 - 28-Mar-18 @ 4:17 PM
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