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New study delivers blow to anti-smacking campaigners (from www.christian.org.uk)

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Most adults agree that smacking naughty children doesn’t pose a “high risk” to their welfare, according to a new survey by an anti-smacking children’s charity.

The results are likely to be seen as a blow to anti-smacking campaigners who have long tried to convince parents that smacking is detrimental to their children’s welfare.

The survey, conducted by The Children’s Society, revealed that two-thirds of the adults surveyed don’t believe that smacking poses a “high risk” to children.

Rules

Dr Patricia Morgan, a prominent social science author, welcomed the results, saying: “There is a major gap between what parents think and what the campaigners tell them.

“All the existing research shows that children brought up by permissive parents do worse than those who set boundaries and enforce the rules, and those who are smacked as a punishment for breaking rules in such families do better. Parents are right.”

The research revealed that 32 per cent of respondents believed smacking to be of low risk, while 36 per cent believed it to be of medium risk.

Punishment

By contrast 33 per cent of those surveyed described physical punishment as high risk.

But Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, expressed concern over the results.

Mr Reitemeier said: “Physical violence is something children definitely need to be protected from. The survey revealed a worrying lack of concern by one third of people surveyed about parents slapping their children.

Disputed

“Children are the only group of people in this country who can be legally hit on a regular basis by others, with little protection in law.”

But this claim was dismissed by Dr Morgan, who said: “Children are the only people who can be legally sent to bed by others. Does that make it wrong?”

The results were from a wider survey, carried out by market researchers GfK NOP, which asked 2,047 adults to identify the biggest risks faced by youngsters aged six to 15 in six different scenarios.

Prosecuted

Earlier this year bureaucrats from the Council of Europe said that parents who smack their children should be prosecuted for assault.

Family value campaigners expressed alarm that “a vocal minority” of activists were in danger of undermining the authority of parents to discipline their children.

Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, said: “Prohibiting all corporal punishment is a legal imperative and I hope the United Kingdom will take that essential step urgently.”

Correcting

She also claimed that gentle smacks which do not leave a mark could cause children psychological harm, and attacked the UK’s approach to parenting which is “one of authority.”

But Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, said: “It is parents, and not national governments, who bear the responsibility of caring for children, nurturing them, and correcting them where necessary.”

Don’t tell children right from wrong, parents told by government

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The Government has told parents to discuss sex with their children without “trying to convince them” of what is right and wrong. Should the Government tell parents not to pass on values? The Christian Institute’s Simon Calvert discusses the issue on BBC Three Counties Radio. The advice comes in a new booklet, called Talking to your Teenager about Sex and Relationships, which is to be made available at pharmacies nationwide.

It has prompted criticism from family campaigners who say it is “outrageous” for the Government to tell parents not to give children clear moral guidance on sexual relationships. Although the Government says it is keen for parents to discuss sex with their children, it recently emerged that parents’ views were ignored during consultations on making sex education compulsory in primary and secondary schools. The new booklet tells parents: “Under the NHS, contraception and condoms are free and there are lots of safe and effective methods that are suitable for young people – encourage your teenager to visit their local clinic or GP so they can make a choice that’s right for them. “Why not offer to go with your daughter or encourage them to take a friend to support them? “Or, if you have a teenage son, suggest he talks to his girlfriend about it and visits a clinic with her.” It cautions: “Discussing your values with your teenagers will help them to form their own. “Remember though, that trying to convince them of what’s right and wrong may discourage them from being open.”

Children’s minister Beverley Hughes said the Government “doesn’t bring up children” but “does have a role to play in supporting parents and giving them access to advice and information”. But Simon Calvert of the Christian Institute said: “The idea that the Government is telling families not to pass on their values is outrageous. “Preserving children’s innocence is a worthy goal. We would like to see more of that kind of language rather than this amoral approach where parents are encouraged to present their children with a smorgasbord of sexual activities and leave them to make up their own minds.”

Author and researcher Patricia Morgan, who is completing a book on teenage pregnancy, said: “All the evidence from the United States is that if parents say they disapprove of underage sex, the teenagers are less likely to do it. “If parents talk about underage sex and do not disapprove of it, the children go on to do it. It is pretty basic stuff,” she added. “Parents are not allowed to know if their child is being given contraception or getting an abortion. But they are being told to teach their children about sex in a manner dictated by the State.”

Meanwhile FPA (formerly the Family Planning Association) has been given £530,000 by the Government to train parents in how to teach their children about sex. FPA is the group behind “Let’s grow with Nisha and Joe”, a comic-style sex education booklet for six-year-olds. The group was one of the most vocal proponents of the programme of compulsory in-depth sex education which the Government intends to introduce for school children as young as five.

FPA was criticised last year for promoting a video to schools along with a leaflet telling teenage girls as young as 14 that warnings about the negative consequences of abortion are just ‘myths’. “Women may feel relieved, have mixed feelings or feel sad. Only a few women experience long-term psychological problems and those women who do often had similar problems before pregnancy,” it read. But earlier that year the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) warned that having an abortion can damage a woman’s mental health. The RCP said women should be warned of the risks before proceeding.

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