Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Parents hitting children

why are parents alowed to hit there children and the kids not be able to hit them back?
Ask Sam


Hi there,

Thank you for your letter. You have a really good point about parents hitting children. At ChildLine we believe that any kind of hitting is wrong - I would say that hitting a child is physical abuse and that is not allowed. It would be wrong of any parent to hit their children.

If an adult were to hit another adult then this would be considered assault – so I think it should be the same between a parent and a child. However at the moment there isn’t a specific law against smacking. I wish it was made illegal completely, but at the moment the law says that “mild smacking” is allowed.

There are laws which say that a parent can’t injure a child though - so a parent isn't allowed to smack a child enough to bruise, cut, graze, cause swelling or scratch them. 

At ChildLine we are part of the NSPCC – and the NSPCC are campaigning for a complete ban on smacking. We don’t believe that it is right for a parent to smack their child – and we have advice on our website for parents about that, suggesting ways of teaching children about things without smacking. If you wanted to look at what they say, you can read about it here.

I don’t know if you are being smacked or hit but if you are I would encourage you to talk to someone about it to get support. You could talk to a ChildLine counsellor or a friend or a teacher at school. You can find out more about asking an adult for help. Remember that no one has the right to hurt you and if ever you feel unsafe or in danger, you can call 999 for help at any time.

You said that it’s not allowed for kids to hit parents back – but the law does say you can defend yourself. The thing to remember is that usually adults are a lot bigger and stronger than children. So you are not expected to be able to defend yourself like that, and it could make things worse if you did. It’s hard for me to give you advice about that but you should trust your own judgement about what’s the safest thing to do in your situation.

I noticed on the message boards that some young people were talking about laws in the UK if you wanted to have a look, or you may like to start your own thread about it to see what other young people think.

Hope this helps. Take care,


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