herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Parents will be banned from ever smacking their children at home

PARENTS are to be banned from smacking their children under tough Government plans.

Mums and dads who slap their children will no longer be able to rely on the defence of "reasonable chastisement".

The Government will today announce plans to review the laws which permit the slapping of children, following a ruling by the Council of Europe that the lack of a clear ban is a violation of young people's rights.

Europe's human rights body will rule Ireland's laws on corporal punishment to be in breach of the European Social Charter, whose signatories promise to "protect children and young persons against negligence, violence or exploitation".

Parents are not allowed use force against their children. However, the defence of "reasonable chastisement" still exists in common law for parents or child carers.

The Department of Children has requested the Department of Justice to examine the question of removing the defence of reasonable chastisement.

It is also set to ban corporal punishment inside foster and care homes, and is preparing regulations in that regard.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that Irish parents have "moved away" from smacking kids.

However, she stressed that the State wants to be in full compliance with Europe's human rights body.

"The good news is the vast majority of Irish parents don't use physical punishment. It's a tiny percentage. It's very much been a situation of that evolving over the years," she said.

Meanwhile, Children's Minister James Reilly has instructed his officials to prepare regulations to ban corporal punishment in residential care and foster care, sources said.

chastisement

He has also working with the Department of Justice to examine the question of removing from common law the defence of reasonable chastisement, it was reported this morning.

The plans are set to spark a national debate, with recent figures revealing that only 42pc of the population believe that corporal punishment should be illegal.

The Growing Up In Ireland study of three-year-olds found that up to 45pc of their primary care-givers smacked them sometimes.

While Ireland cannot be forced to change its laws by the European Council, it will come under pressure from other member states to do so.

Pope Francis sparked debate earlier this year when he advised parents that badly behaved children could be punished with a slap.

He made the remarks, which were condemned by campaigners for child protection, in front of thousands of people at his weekly general audience in St Peter's Square during a homily about the responsibilities of fatherhood.

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