Electronic Telegraph, October 31, 1997
I might be wrong, says producer of smacking video
By Alison Boshoff, Media Correspondent
THE man behind the "safe smacking" video and leather strap backed down yesterday in the face of condemnation from MPs and children's charities.
Philip Holdway-Davis, who The Telegraph revealed is promoting a mail order video that promises to "show you the only safe way to smack your child", admitted that he might be wrong.
The claim that children aged seven could safely receive up to 30 smacks a day was almost certain to be revised to a lesser number, he said.
Mr Holdway-Davis also promised to consult paediatricians and child welfare experts before the video was released because of the level of condemnation and concern that it had excited.
However, the basic contention of the Safe Smack video, which comes with a nine-inch leather "Uncle Sam Safe Smacker", remains the same: that parents should smack their children with a strap and that it is both safe and beneficial to do so.
After news of the video broke, MPs and children's charities were quick to condemn it as a dangerous development that could be used to legitimise child abuse. Mr Holdway-Davis said: "There has been a negative reaction from people who do not understand that I am talking about discipline plus affection. There is less and less and less parental authority in the world in general and it is harmful both to children and to society as a whole. You only have to look at the terrible crime and violence of today to see what a mess no-smacking has left us in. But I have to be responsible, so I am going to look again at the smacking part of the video with child care experts. I'm willing to make some changes. I won't send out mail orders of the video until I am satisfied that it is right and until they are happy."
Robin Corbett, Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington, called for the video and strap to be banned. "This is a dangerous sickness. It runs the very real risk of encouraging child abuse," he said.
David Wilshire, Conservative MP for Spelthorne, also expressed reservations. Mr Wilshire, who believes that smacking in extreme situations is justified, added: "It is distasteful if it is marketing physical punishment. I don't think it should be banned. I would expect that the British public would simply have more sense than to buy this product."
A mannequin is used to demonstrate smacking on the video. The video and smacker is part of a range of material, including T-shirts and sweatshirts, that Mr Holdway-Davis plans to produce and sell by mail order.
He invested £12,000 of his money to set up the company and used friends in the video instead of actors because they were willing to help for free.
Mr Holdway-Davis, 37, was born in England but moved to New Zealand six years ago. He lives outside Hamilton and works in insurance.