Majority support ban on slapping children, survey reveals

A total of 57% of Irish adults would support a ban on slapping children, according to a recent survey.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) and the Children’s Rights Alliance launched the findings of the study today, which was conducted to investigate attitudes towards child discipline.

With 62% of adults surveyed believing that it is currently illegal to slap a child and 73% viewing slapping as an ineffective way to discipline a child, the organisations are calling for an outright ban on slapping children and the implementation of a large-scale positive parenting campaign.

The survey also found that 73% do not view slapping as an effective way to discipline a child.

However, two out of five adults questioned have slapped a child to discipline them, with 1% saying they do it often.

Two thirds of adults believe that there is not enough information available to parents relating to alternative methods of discipline.

Caroline O’Sullivan, Director of Services, ISPCC said: “We know that slapping children is harmful, it is ineffective and has innumerable negative effects such as increased aggression in children, increased anti-social behaviour and damage to the parent-child relationship.

“The survey findings indicate positive support for a ban on slapping children in Ireland.

“There is overwhelming evidence that slapping is ineffective in changing a child’s behaviour and in fact has negative effects on children, adults, and society in general.

“Now is the time for the Government to step up and implement a ban on slapping in all settings without delay.”

In recent times both the ISPCC and Children’s Rights Alliance supported a complaint made against Ireland to the European Committee of Social Rights for Ireland’s failure to ban the corporal punishment of children, a practice which has been completely banned in 34 countries worldwide to date.

Tanya Ward, chief executive, Children’s Rights Alliance said: “Currently, physical punishment of children by parents/legal caregivers, child-minders and foster parents is permissible in Irish law.

“We believe this is unacceptable. We urge the Government to remove the common law defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’, and legislate for an outright ban on violence against children in all settings.”

Speaking about children’s views on slapping and the importance of supporting parents and guardians in their role, Tracey Monson, regional services manager, ISPCC said: “Previous surveys of children’s views on slapping have shown the hurt, upset and confusion it causes.

“Parents very often use slapping when they themselves are angry and this can lead to an increase in force beyond what was intended which is a huge concern for the protection and welfare of children.

“Parents need support and information to assist them in disciplining children and dealing with the many developmental stages of their children.”

Information and advice leaflets on discipline and a range of other parenting issues are now available to download from the ISPCC’s website.

The groups surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,008 adults.

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