A senior Labour MP has called for the legislation surrounding smacking to be relaxed to enable working-class parents to instil discipline in their children in the absence of fearing prosecution. David Lammy, an MP for Tottenham, stated that the decision of Labour in 2004 to tighten up legislation relating to smacking partly caused the 2011 civil unrest. The former minister of education claimed that many of his constituents blamed Labour for the civil unrest, claiming that Labour prevented parents from smacking their children. He added that he felt “disparaging” upon the concerns first being raised but added that he later understood that parents refrained from smacking their children under the belief that the authorities may take away their children.
Mr. Lammy claimed that working-class parents should be free to discipline their youngsters physically in a bid to prevent them from becoming involved in criminal activity. Current laws, enforced through the Children Act of 2004, stated that parents are free to smack their children so long as they do not cause a “reddening of the skin”. Previously, parents were free to use “reasonable chastisement” and it was the role of a judge to determine whether parents had taken their actions too far. Since amendments being made in 2004, this decision is made by social workers. Mr. Lammy stated that many parents had been left bewildered by the changes and felt hesitant to discipline their offspring physically for fear of being contacted by the local authorities.
Duncan Lewis’ childcare law solicitors are on hand to discuss current smacking legislation with concerned parents.