THERE are some subjects on which everyone has an opinion.
Smacking is one of them.
When the Scottish Parliament tried to ban smacking of under threes the public outcry forced them to back down.
The issue came to a head after a 48 year old father was prosecuted for pulling down the pants of his 8 year old daughter and smacking her when she became hysterical at the dentist.
He became the first person in the UK to be convicted for smacking, which to be legal has to be judged as “reasonable chastisement”.
The proposed outright ban was watered down in Scotland, to make hitting on the head or striking a child with an implement, such as a stick, illegal.
This is similar to the proposal passed in the House of Lords this week, where an outright ban proposed by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff was rejected.
In some ways the debate on this issue misses the point.
There is a problem with parenting which we see around us every day.
We see parents who ignore their children and plonk them in front of the TV, or allow them to run wild.
Parents who only ever give children attention when they misbehave, and never play with or read to their children.
Often these are the same parents, who rather than believing that on occasion a light smack is appropriate, routinely use hitting as the first resort.
Sometimes they are parents who know no other way from their own upbringing.
We need more policies like “Sure Start” to educate parents as well as children.
Perhaps the debate should focus less on outright bans and more on encouraging good parenting; talking to children, teaching right from wrong and respect for others, and praising and rewarding good behaviour.