Reuters, June 10, 1999

Father Spared Jail For Spanking Daughter

EDINBURGH A British father convicted of assault for spanking his daughter publicly was spared jail in a high-profile case that sparked new debate about an old practice.

The unidentified man, a 48-year-old schoolteacher who may still lose his job over the incident, faced a possible three months in jail but was let off with a formal admonishment from a judge at Hamilton Sheriff Court in central Scotland.

The man, who cannot be named, was convicted of assault last month after spanking his eight-year-old daughter for refusing to have a tooth extracted at a dentist's office in December. The spanking caused bruising on her buttocks, the court was told.

After workers at the dentist's office told social services about the incident, the father of three was forced to leave his family home for two weeks over Christmas and New Year and was suspended from his job.

British law states parents can use "reasonable chastisement'' in punishing their children, but the European Court of Human Rights last September got involved by ruling in another case that British law does not go far enough to protect children.

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