ISPCC and Children’s Rights Alliance launch results of survey which shows that 57% of adults would support a ban on slapping

Published date: 
6 Feb 2014

Press release
February 6th 2014

Today the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC) and the Children’s Rights Alliance launched the findings of a survey conducted to investigate attitudes towards child discipline. With 62% of adults surveyed believing that it is currently illegal to slap a child and 73% viewing slapping as an ineffective way to discipline a child, the two children’s organisations are calling for an outright ban on slapping children and the implementation of a large scale positive parenting campaign.

Both organisations have for many years been raising concerns about the corporal punishment of children in Ireland and calling on the Government to legislate against such practices in all settings. The survey which was commissioned to learn more about public attitudes towards slapping and child discipline surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,008 adults and yielded some interesting trends.

Key Findings:
•    Just over 3 in 5 adults believe it is illegal to slap a child
•    73%, almost 3 quarters of adults, do not view slapping as an effective way to discipline a child
•    2 in 5 adults have slapped a child to discipline them with 1% saying they do it often
•    Almost 3 in 5 adults support a complete ban on slapping children
•    Two thirds of adults believe that there is not enough information available to parents relating to alternative methods of discipline
The findings indicate that there is much support for a ban on slapping but also a great need for information and support for parents to become more aware of alternative methods of disciplining children.

Caroline O’Sullivan, Director of Services, ISPCC said; “We know that slapping children is harmful, it is ineffective and has innumerable negative effects such as increased aggression in children, increased anti-social behaviour and damage to the parent-child relationship. The survey findings indicate positive support for a ban on slapping children in Ireland. There is overwhelming evidence that slapping is ineffective in changing a child’s behaviour and in fact has negative effects on children, adults, and society in general. Now is the time for the Government to step up and implement a ban on slapping in all settings without delay.”

In recent times both the ISPCC and Children’s Rights Alliance supported a complaint made against Ireland to the European Committee of Social Rights for Ireland’s failure to ban the corporal punishment of children, a practice which has been completely banned in 34 countries worldwide to date.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive, Children’s Rights Alliance said; “Currently, physical punishment of children by parents/legal caregivers, child-minders and foster parents is permissible in Irish law. We believe this is unacceptable. We urge the Government to remove the common law defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’, and legislate for an outright ban on violence against children in all settings. This is not only a child protection concern but a key human rights issue.”

Speaking about children’s views on slapping and the importance of supporting parents and guardians in their role, Tracey Monson, Regional Services Manager, ISPCC said; “Previous surveys of children’s views on slapping have shown the hurt, upset and confusion it causes. Parents very often use slapping when they themselves are angry and this can lead to an increase in force beyond what was intended which is a huge concern for the protection and welfare of children. Parents need support and information to assist them in disciplining children and dealing with the many developmental stages of their children. The ISPCC is here to provide some support but we would like to see a large scale positive parenting programme in operation.”

The ISPCC provides support to parents and caregivers through direct work parent mentoring and individual parenting work, as well as providing a Support Line to parents and any adults concerned about children’s welfare. Information and advice leaflets on discipline and a range of other parenting issues are now available to download from the ISPCC’s website.

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ISPCC Support Line is available Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm by calling 01-6767960

Information, advice and support leaflets can be downloaded free of charge at www.ispcc.ie/advice

For further information contact:

Caroline Kingston - ISPCC             01 676 7960/087 1258655        ckingston@ispcc.ie
Brid McGrath - Children’s Rights Alliance          087 7702845      Brid@childrensrights.ie