Man convicted over smacking | POLL

THE conviction of a Ravenswood man for assaulting his son has shone the spotlight on whether smacking children is appropriate.

The father was charged with striking his four-year-old child on the buttocks in September.

The smack left a mark which could still be seen the next day.

The Launceston Magistrates Court had heard the man smacked the child after telling him twice not to poke their large dog.

Lawyer Alan Hensley said his client pleaded guilty on the basis that he'd only marginally gone beyond a reasonable level of home discipline.

It was not child abuse, he said.

Yesterday, Magistrate Tim Hill said the victim was a defenceless child who had been traumatised by the incident.

The 28-year-old, who has two previous convictions for common assault, was ordered to perform 49 hours of community service.

The subject of smacking was in focus this week after a United Nations' report on children's rights asked Australia to abolish parents' ability to use reasonable chastisement to discipline children.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who admitted smacking his own children, said a ban on smacking was political correctness to the extreme.

"All parents know that occasionally the best thing we can give is a smack, but it should never be something that hurts them," he said.


Tasmania's Acting Commissioner for Children Elizabeth Daly disagreed, saying experts had roundly rejected smacking as a useful parenting tool.

"Smacking children or any kind of physical punishment is first of all dangerous and it certainly doesn't help children to learn about bullying or physical violence," she said.

Child Health Association Tasmania's executive director Tanya Zaadstra said smacking was an inappropriate way to manage a child's behaviour but she did not necessarily back court intervention.

"There are issues where it's clearly abuse and there's going to be a line where sometimes it might be considered the courts are interfering too far," she said.

The state government said while there were no plans to ban smacking under the law the "use of physical discipline ... is neither promoted nor endorsed by any government agency in Tasmania".

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