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Issue date: 15/07/04


Over ten European countries, including Germany and Sweden, have introduced a ban on smacking children. In the UK 350 organisations and over 200 MPs are said to want a ban. The law, which dates back to 1860, currently allows ‘reasonable chastisement’. So should this law be updated to give children the same rights as adults, who are protected by law from being hit by other adults?

Independent research agency, BMRB, conducted a national survey on some of these issues last weekend. When asked “which best reflects your view”, 85% of adults said parents should sometimes be allowed to smack their children, with only 12% agreeing that “smacking of children by their parents should be illegal in all circumstances”. However, most adults felt some legal constraint was justified: 76% felt that parents should be banned from hitting their children, if it causes a bruise or other visible harm.

These views are in line with those of the House of Lords, which rejected an outright ban on smacking children, and backed a compromise which would allow parents to administer “mild smacking”.

It is perhaps unsurprising that people are so in favour of smacking, given their own childhood experiences. 79% were smacked as a child and of those, 14% said that it had on occasion caused bruising and 6% said that it had caused harm more serious than bruising. However, 84% of those who had been smacked thought it was “good for me”. The proportion of adults who were smacked during childhood was lower among the under 35s: 83% of those aged 35 and older had been smacked as children, compared with 76% of 25-34 year olds and only 65% of 16-24 year olds.

So, if there was a ban on smacking, how easy would this be to enforce? Not easy would appear to be the consensus. When BMRB put this question to the general public, more than nine in ten thought any smacking ban would be ‘not very’ or ‘not at all’ easy to enforce. Moreover, two thirds of those interviewed agreed that enforcing any new law banning smacking would be a “waste of police time”, although a quarter disagreed that this would be the case.

Commenting on these findings, Sue Brooker BMRB’s Director of Social Research said “This is a particularly important survey as it was conducted independently by BMRB to establish what people really think on this issue. We were not commissioned by anyone with a particular interest in this debate. As such, the survey reflects the real state of public opinion concerning whether or not a ban on smacking should be imposed and whether or not this would be enforceable”.

Sue Brooker, Director BMRB Social Research – 020 8433 4405

Steve Cooke, Marketing Director BMRB – 020 8433 4381

Editors’ Notes

BMRB interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,007 adults in Great Britain by telephone between 9th and 11th July, 2004.

BMRB International is one of the largest market research agencies in the UK and is a key operating company within the KMR Group. For more, visit

KMR is a division of the Millward Brown Group, part of Kantar, the information, insight and consultancy arm of WPP.

For more, visit

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Direct Public Relations in the following categories: Children & Teenagers, Women's Interest & Beauty, for more information visit