SYDNEY – Australian doctors Friday called for the smacking of children by parents to be made illegal, saying it is too easy to blur the line between reasonable discipline and abuse.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians said laws need to be changed to make all forms of corporal punishment illegal “so the law protects children from assault to the same extent that it does all people.”
“Many cases of physical abuse are the result of physical punishment that became more severe than intended,” said Susan Moloney, president of the college’s child health division.
Research suggests most Australian parents smack their children, but acceptance of the practice is falling with 75 percent of adults surveyed in 2002 saying it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child compared with 69 percent in 2006.
Moloney said studies are increasingly showing that those subjected to physical punishment when young are at greater risk of harmful effects.