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Push to ban smacking children to stamp out domestic violence

The National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell has called for a ban on smacking children in a bid to stamp out domestic violence.

Ms Mitchell argues smacking children legitimises violence at a formative stage in a child’s life.

Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, Anne Hollands, said Ms Mitchell “has a point”, but the link between being smacking and domestic violence in later life is not clear.

“If a parent is routinely doing the smacking and doing it under a situation of stress then one would expect that is modelling that this is the way you deal with a stressful situation,” she told Neil Mitchell.

“On a global scale there are many countries that have already banned smacking and there are many countries where this is being discussed, but we don’t hear about it much in Australia.”

Sweden became the first country to ban smacking children in 1979, and more than 50 countries, including New Zealand, have followed.

Ms Hollands said smacking offers no benefit to parents, so there’s no reason to protect a parent’s right to smack a child.

“The main reason why we should be discussing it is that now we know it doesn’t actually work to promote positive behaviour,” she said.

“If there’s a reason, e.g. your kids is about to run onto a busy road, that’s a completely different situation where you’re saving their life. But if it’s a day to day, just trying to teach them what is the appropriate behaviour to be following, then there’s no evidence to suggest smacking is the way to do it.”

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