The Telegraph asks: should you smack your child?

Family|June 12th 2014

It’s a sure sign of the times: gone are the days when newspapers could content themselves with written articles. Nowadays most publish video and audio offerings too and the Telegraph is no exception, with a weekly series of Google+ hangouts (video conferences) on various newsworthy topics.

The paper’s latest Google+ hangout asks the emotive question ‘should you smack your child?’ This is a perennial hot button issue, a topic about which many people have strong feelings. Corporal punishment was once taken for granted of course, a commonplace of childrearing, and many older people have vivid recollections of being clipped round the ear, smacked or caned during their early years.

But things are very different now. Corporal punishment was banned in state-run schools back in 1987, although it survived as an option in English and Welsh private schools for an additional 12 years and even longer elsewhere. Nowadays most of us react with horror to the idea of corporal punishment, seeing it as a serious violation of a child’s integrity and personal space. Parents too are no longer allowed to smack their children with impunity but they are allowed to administer “reasonable punishment” –a vague phrase, rather open to interpretation. And I’m sure few stressed parents, faced with a screaming, tantrum-throwing child, have not succumbed to the heat of the moment and imagined administering a well-aimed smack.

The springboard for the Telegraph discussion was a controversial recent news story about a teacher who taped a pupil’s mouth shut after she refused to stop talking in class – much to the understandable annoyance of her father.

Paul Read, a senior solicitor (and former barrister) in our London office took part in this intriguing discussion. Here what he had to say on this tricky topic here.

Paul Read was awarded an Honours Degree in Law by the University of Leeds and studied the Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law in London, specialising in civil and commercial litigation before being called to the Bar in 2004. He joined the in-house legal department of a global finance and media company in the City, before embarking on a successful sojourn into private business and developing a keen interest in family law. Paul joined as a trainee solicitor in 2009 after completing the Legal Practice Course at BPP in Leeds, where he specialised in family law and advanced commercial litigation. Having already gained much experience with the firm’s high net worth cases, Paul is very much involved running the London office of Stowe Family Law.

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