Childminders banned from smacking

May 4, 2003

Childminders in England are to be banned from smacking under new rules to be announced by the government.

They will also be prevented from smoking in front of children in their care.

But the smacking ban will not be extended to parents, despite pressure from the United Nations and child protection group the NSPCC.

The move represents a U-turn for the government, which angered childcare organisations by refusing to ban smacking or smoking when it introduced new regulations for childminders in August 2000.

Ministers said then it was a matter for agreement between parents and childminders.

Under the new rules, up to 70,000 childminders in England will be forbidden from smacking or using any form of corporal punishment against children under the age of eight.

The rules will apply even if they have the written consent of the parent.

Complete ban

The Department of Education said it was time to impose the same rules on childminders as those that govern nursery staff and teachers.

But it said it had no intention of outlawing smacking by parents - a step supported by some children's charities including the NSPCC.

The NSPCC said smacking had been successfully outlawed in other European countries over the last 30 years.

It found that reform did not lead to parents being prosecuted for minor incidents, with change taking place through education rather than punishment.

It also claimed that changes to the law had not led to more unruly children and that they were widely accepted by both the general public and parents.

Last year the UN also urged the government to ban smacking, saying it was failing to meet its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

'Great day'

The ban on smacking by childminders was welcomed by Kate Harper of Save the Children.

She said: "This is a great day for the protection of children who are in the care of others outside the parental home.

"What we have here is child minders who are professional child carers, give a very good service to the majority of children in the country and who have said themselves that they do not want to use physical punishment."

The national childcare charity Daycare Trust welcomed the review as a chance to improve standards and a "victory for children's rights".

Its director, Stephen Burke, said: "This is a logical move, bringing childminding into line with other forms of childcare, which will benefit children and raise the status of childminders."


Announcing the new measures, the government said it had no desire to interfere excessively in family life and prompt accusations that it is criminalising ordinary people.

Health Minister Alan Milburn told BBC One's Breakfast with Frost programme: "This measure is not about telling parents how to bring up their kids, but equally there's got to be some protection for children.

"Nowadays nobody would be very happy if teachers and nursery nurses started hitting children.

"So there is an anomaly here that needs clearing up, and that's in relation to childminders.

"Very often the kids that they are looking after are much younger than school age children and are even more vulnerable, so you've just got to get the balance right about these things."

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