child smacking toy

At the end of the long summer holiday, many parents may feel the need for a rest from the day-long challenges of parenting, with their patience exhausted.

Tired parents may be somewhat reassured by a MORI survey* from 2007 among 1,822 parents of children aged under 18 which showed that expressions of parental anger are permissible without interference from the law: 59% agreed that “the law should allow parents to smack their children”, and only 18% agreed “there should be a complete ban on parents hitting their children, even a smack as a punishment”.

These data, held in the AMSR files, were reinforced by a 2012 survey by Angus Reid which showed the balance of opinion has not shifted over time: 63% of Britons still voiced opposition to the idea of banning parents from smacking their children.

In line with this, in the UK smacking is still legal in 2019 “as long as it does not leave a mark on the body”. But across Europe, 22 countries have adopted legislation banning corporate punishment in the home. Does the UK need to get in line?


*The Archive ( contains a wide range of valuable material that is free to access and this may be found under ‘MORI Reports’, or by clicking on this direct link to the archive (link to the archive contents will open as a separate page).

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