Questions and answers
Is is really legal to hurt children?
Yes! The law in the UK says that some adults (including parents, but not only them) can hit or hurt children to punish them as long as they don't leave a mark. This often – but not always – means 'smacking' them. Read more about the law.
So why do Children are Unbeatable! think the law should change?
If you are under 18 then right now, the law gives you less protection from violence than all adults have.
At the moment, the law says that an adult is not allowed to hit another adult, but is allowed to hit a child. We think this wrong. Hitting a child is just as wrong and just as violent as hitting an adult. It can hurt just as much and be just as upsetting.
It shouldn’t matter how young or old you are, where the hitting happens or who it comes from – you have the right to full protection from violence, and the law should say so! Read more about why we think the law should change.
Would a parent who just loses their temper and smacks their child once go to prison?
Giving children equal protection from violence is not about punishing parents – it is about protecting children. Children should only be taken away from their parents if they are at risk of being seriously hurt. If not, support and help should be offered to the family, instead of taking the child away or punishing the parent.
At the moment, it is illegal for adults to hit each other, but an adult who just loses their temper and hits another adult once lightly is very unlikely to go to prison. The same would be true for parents who hit children. But changing the law would make it easier to punish parents and other adults who do hurt children very seriously.
What about parents' rights? Don't parents have a right to discipline their children how they choose to?
No, they don't. Nobody has the right to hurt another person. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the ChildThe United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a set of rules about how countries in the United Nations should respect children's rights. says that children have the right to be fully protected from violence, including in the home. There are lots of better ways of punishing children which don't hurt them. Read more about positive parenting.
But smacking isn't real violence!
“Smacking” is a word that is used to make hitting children sound better. It is just as violent to hit a child as it is to hit an adult.
Some people's religion says that they have to smack their children, so how can you make it illegal?
It’s true that some people do believe that their religion tells them to punish their children physically. However, this does not give them the right to hurt children. People have the right to practise their religion – but they also have to respect other people’s rights. All children have the right to protection from violence, whatever religion they or their parents follow.
Many religious people also believe that it is wrong to hit children. Children are Unbeatable! has members from all the major religions.
I was smacked and it never did me any harm.
Lots of people, both children and adults, have been hit by their parents, and lots of parents have hit their children. Nobody likes to think bad things about their parents or about the way they bring up their own children. This makes it difficult for many people, especially adults, to admit that ‘smacking’ is a bad thing.
But now it’s time to move on! There is no point in blaming parents who have ‘smacked’ their children in the past – usually they were just doing what they thought was normal. But children have the right to protection from being hit. ‘Smacks’ can be very painful and deeply humiliating. Changing the law would help more adults realise that hitting children is wrong, so more children would be safe from violence.
Only a few people think hitting children should be illegal.
That's not true – the Children are Unbeatable! Alliance is a huge group of children, young people, adults and organisations, including the NSPCC and all the major children's charities. Read more about who we are.
It is true that not everyone wants the law to change. But politicians have the duty to do the right thing, even if not everyone agrees with it. It’s time for the government to change the law to make sure that your rights are respected and you are fully protected from violence.
It’s wrong to hit you – so help us make the law say so!
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