NSPCC queries High Court judge's smacking remarks

Father smacking his daughter Image copyright Thinkstock

Children need to be protected from being physically abused by their parents irrespective of "cultural sensitivities", a UK charity has said.

The NSPCC said different practices in communities were no excuse for "child abuse taking place in this country".

It comes as a judge said authorities need to make allowances for a "cultural context" in cases involving parents.

Mrs Justice Pauffley made the comments in a High Court ruling of a man from India accused of slapping his son.

She said that, in many newly arrived communities in the UK, children were "slapped and hit" for misbehaviour in a way that "excites the interest" of child protection professionals in this country.

Mrs Justice Pauffley - who sits in the family division of the High Court - said proper allowance had to be made for "what is, almost certainly a different cultural context".

She made the comments during a case involving a man from India who had been accused of assaulting his wife and son.

Children Act 2004

The boy - who cannot be named for legal reasons - alleged that his father had hit him with a belt on his back and leg.

The man denied the allegation but accepted he had given his son "a slap or a tap" to keep him disciplined.

The judge said this did not amount to "punitively harsh treatment of the kind that would merit the term physical abuse".

"Within many communities newly arrived in this country, children are slapped and hit for misbehaviour in a way which at first excites the interest of child protection professionals," Mrs Justice Pauffley said.

However, a spokesman for the NSPCC said: "Children need to be protected irrespective of cultural sensitivities.

"Different practices are no excuse for child abuse taking place in this country and the law doesn't make that distinction.

"Every child deserves the right to be safe and protected from physical abuse and the courts must reflect this."

Under the Children Act 2004 it is not illegal for a parent to hit their child as long as it amounts to "reasonable punishment".

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