Police called 58 times to tackle parents smacking their children

Michaela Middleton

Michaela Middleton

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Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

ALMOST 60 Oxfordshire parents have been reported to the police for smacking their child in the last five years.

A total of 58 reports were made to Thames Valley Police between 2009 and March this year, figures released to the Oxford Mail show.

In all cases, a ‘smack’ or ‘smacking’ was recorded to have been carried out by a parent or a family member.

Eight were recorded as assault occasioning actual bodily harm, two were recorded as crimes of neglect/cruelty while 11 were recorded as assault without injury.

In total 35 cases that were reported were classed as crime related incidents, but not recorded as an official crime.

Of the 66 children the reports covered, 27 were aged five to 10 and police action was taken against 11 parents. Seven were cautioned and one got a suspended prison sentence, with the others dealt with by restorative justice, where they apologise to their victim.

Chalgrove father-of-two Paul Waters, 40, said: “My wife, Louise, and I do not agree with smacking at all. It’s abuse, surely?”

The BMW logistics manager dad to Harry, three, and Jamie, two said: “I don’t think it’s a police matter, though.”

Michaela Middleton, 45, who is mum to Finley, five and Lucie, two, said: “I don’t use smacking as a form of punishment, but it’s a threat that I use very regularly.

“If I deemed it necessary I would, it has a place in society. There’s a definite line between making your child understand and situations where it is overused which could then lead to abuse.”

The Upper Arncott resident said: “If it’s a family member reporting it, then the police getting involved is warranted. But if it’s just someone over the street, they don’t know your circumstances and the ins and outs.”

Parents can smack their children as “reasonable chastisement” but not if it causes any physical injury.

Force spokeswoman Connie Primmer said: “In many cases, the evidential threshold for a criminal prosecution is not met, and the most appropriate course of action is for the local authority’s social services to provide support to the parents regarding their parenting skills.”

Tom Rahilly, head of strategy and development for physical abuse at children’s charity the NSPCC, said: “Smacking frightens children and leaves them feeling confused, and doesn’t act as a good deterrent for bad behaviour.

“A minority of parents will go beyond smacking and in these cases it is right that the police and children’s services become involved to ensure the welfare and protection of the child.”

Owen Morton, spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council which is reponsible for child welfare, said: “We take safeguarding children very seriously and work with the police, health and schools to protect children from maltreatment.”

The figures were released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Oxford Mail.

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