Nadhim Zahawi rejects call to ban smacking children as ‘we’ve got to trust parents’

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has rejected calls to ban smacking children in England.

Mr Zahawi said the reason behind the response was because “we’ve got to trust parents”.

He added: “My very strong view is that actually we have got to trust parents on this and parents being able to discipline their children is something that they should be entitled to do.

“We have got to just make sure we don’t end up in a world where the state is nannying people about how they bring up their children.”

Mr Zahawi continued by saying there was a “very big difference” between a “light smack on the arm” and child abuse.

His comments on Times Radio come after England’s children’s commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza called for a smacking ban to be considered.

She said: “I absolutely abhor, and I’m against, violence of any kind against children.

“Because children are more vulnerable than adults, I think we do need to ensure that their rights are supported.”

Wales last month made any type of corporal punishment, including smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking, illegal in the country.

The ban was brought in under the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 and marks the end of the common law defence of “reasonable punishment”.

Parents or anyone who is responsible for a child while the parents are absent can now face criminal or civil charges if they are found to have physically disciplined a young person in any way.

Critics of the law change have said it will criminalise parents, but the Welsh Government insisted the move was about protecting children’s rights.

It came after Scotland introduced its own ban in November 2020.

Previously, and as is still the case in England and Northern Ireland, smacking a child was unlawful, but such an assault was allowed as long as it constituted “reasonable punishment”.

Dame Rachel continued: “Scotland and Wales have done this (banned the physical punishment of children). So we’ve learnt a lot about what that would mean, as it goes into legislation.

“I think we’ve got a great opportunity to look, watch it, as it’s embedded (in Wales), and I would be supportive — certainly, from what I’ve seen so far — I would be supportive if our government decided to do the same.”

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