I have never been excited by David Laws before but I am thrilled to bits that he and Annette Brooke have adopted an anti smacking policy, recognising the rights of the child.
I have always felt very uncomfortable with our previous position that we were happy with "reasonable chastisement". I got this the other day......
"The Liberal Democrats want to see that children have the same rights as adults against any physical assault. We do not believe that physical violence is acceptable against children, and it can often send out the wrong messages. We want to introduce policies to encourage more 'positive parenting' and more support services available to families. We believe that these policies will help to reduce harm and violence against children, as has been the case in other European countries, and in the longer term will lead to a culture in Britain where children's rights and protection are given the priority they deserve.
Annette Brooke MP, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson on Children, Schools and Families, supported calls by the UK's four children's commissioners for a ban on the smacking of children in January 2006. She said:
"This is a welcome call by the four commissioners. Smacking a child is not an effective way of changing behaviour and can make matters worse over the long-term.”
The Liberal Democrats were disappointed by the Government’s decision not to bring in a total ban in October 2007 after a review of the law. England’s Children’s commissioner called this decision a ‘betrayal’ saying that by not changing the law “we continue to send out confusing messages to parents about the acceptable use of violence across society.” There needs to be a clear signal that physical punishment is counter-productive and damaging. Children that are hit are more likely to hit others and are more likely to be bullies. If it is wrong to hit an adult, it is wrong to hit a child - children deserve equal protection. "
Now we just have to persuade the Scottish Parliamentary Party to take the same view. I get very cross with the idea that you can't discipline a child unless you hit him or her. My daughter, who has never, ever been smacked, was praised by her teacher for just about everything at her parents' evening the other night.