Parents want to keep smacking
By Leela de Kretser, July 6, 2002

VICTORIAN parents have defended the right to smack their children despite welfare and charity groups supporting a ban on the practice.

More than 88 per cent of 2085 Victorians who rang the Herald Sun Voteline yesterday said parents should be allowed to smack their children.

Only 148 voted to ban it.

But while the public may still see smacking as acceptable, charities, welfare advocates and psychologists came out in strong support of Family Court Chief Justice Alastair Nicholson's calls to legislate against the practice.

Jan Matthews, a psychologist at the Victorian Parenting Centre, said new laws would help promote alternative modes of discipline.

"I think legal prohibition of smacking would be hard to enforce, but the existence of such legislation might encourage parents to seek out alternative methods of discipline," she said.

"We wouldn't recommend smacking when there are better ways for dealing with various behaviour issues."

Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse president Liz Mulliner agreed.

She said her organisation had found plenty of research proving smacking could be harmful to children.

"You are not allowed to smack an adult, so why should you be allowed to smack a child?" Ms Mulliner said.

But Australian Family Association president Bill Muehlenberg warned new laws would turn most parents into criminals.

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