Friday, 9 March 2007

4 March 2007 - Google groups - smack can keep children from crime says police leader

4 March 2007 - Google groups - smack can keep children from crime says police leader
A smack can keep children from crime says police leader

Ben Leapman, Home Affairs Correspondent, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:49am GMT 04/03/2007

Children lack discipline and turn to crime because their parents are too scared to smack them, says one of Britain's most senior black policemen.

Parents no longer use physical punishment because they fear they will end up in court facing an assault charge, according to Supt Leroy Logan of the Metropolitan Police Force.

He says that the results have been a decline in respect, a rise in family breakdowns and an increasing number of children being put up for adoption. Supt Logan, the deputy borough commander in Hackney, east London, made the comments last week during a meeting of the all-party Commons Home Affairs Committee, which is investigating patterns of crime among young black men, including last month's spate of shootings in south London.

He told the committee that "lack of respect and discipline in the home" was caused by "the parent feeling a sense of helplessness or a fear of prosecution in the moderate correction of their child".

Black families had raised with him their concerns over the law on smacking, he said, while some had even sent their children back to the Caribbean or Africa, where physical punishments are traditionally used, "to regain their cultural and community values of respect and discipline".

After the hearing, Supt Logan, who is also the chairman of the National Black Police Association, said: "I was beaten by my parents. It was a wake-up call to me, it's the rite of passage that you need."

In law, parents may smack their children without risk of being charged with assault, as long as the force used is "moderate and reasonable". Three years ago, legislation was changed so that blows hard enough to leave lasting marks, which would be classed as actual bodily harm, can no longer be explained away using the defence of reasonable punishment.

Supt Logan's comments drew praise from parents' rights campaigners, who said they applied equally to white families who were now too afraid to smack their children.

Norman Wells, the director of the pressure group Family and Youth Concern, said: "He is absolutely right, and it's not only black parents who are feeling intimidated by social workers and child protection agencies who equate a moderate smack with child abuse.

"If parents are to be held responsible for their children's behaviour at school and in the community, it is vital that their authority to reasonably correct their children is recognised. The more parents' authority is undermined, the less responsibility they will be inclined to take for their -children, and the more their children will grow out of -control.

"Parents are authority figures in their children's lives and they need to have effective sanctions at their disposal when their children misbehave. If children don't learn to respect their parents, there is little hope that they will respect other authority figures."

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