64% of adults believe that violence against children is wrong

A recent survey conducted by YouGov in England finds that 64% of the adults believe that violence against children is wrong. In other words, more than two-thirds of the grown-ups believe that it is immoral for parents or caretakers to physically punish children. Nearly 3000 people commissioned by the NSPCC participated in the poll.

Other findings are a lack of clarity about the law on physical punishment. Already 58% of the respondents think that it is illegal to smack children versus 20% knowing that it is still legal. 22% does not know whether it is legal or not.

Also, Wales took the next steps in the direction of banning violence against children, such as smacking and slapping. This is a historic moment for children’s rights in Wales. More concrete, Wales abolished “reasonable chastisement” as a defense for hitting children. The polling underlines that the majority of the public agrees with changing the law, with 64% stating that children should have equal legal protections against assault as adults.

However, more than 800 children have been killed since the amendment to the Children’s Act was rejected in 2004. Banning violence could have been regulated years ago and could have saved children’s lives. Besides, while the physical punishment of children is now prohibited in all settings in Scotland and Wales, in England and Northern Ireland corporal punishment remains legal in some care and daycare environments.

The NSPCC says that more than 500 counseling sessions have been delivered by Childline in 2021, where children and young people reported being smacked or hit by parents and caretakers. Some children reported that the physical punishment had become more severe as they got older.

University College London analyzed twenty years of research on the topic alongside a team of international experts and concluded that any form of physical punishment is harmful to children and has no benefit. The research shows that it does not improve children’s behavior. In fact, it increases behavioral difficulties, such as aggression and anti-social behavior. Children who are physically punished are also at increased risk of being subjected to more severe violence. Children are some of the most vulnerable members of our society and deserve more protection from violence than adults.

Here’s The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a reminder.

Source: press release and platform YouGov.