Ask Sam letter


To Sam

Punishments for a child

I’m not too sure where to go to ask about this as I have talked about this with certain people before but we have disagreed and i came here and found this so i hope you see this letter

So, I want to know if it is ok to smack a child as a punishment for being naughty, being rude etc. ? And to scream/shout at them “if they wont listen” (as i have been told before by someone) this is something i personally do not agree with but i know that older generations find it generally acceptable to do rather than younger people, not sure if thats true its just what i have seem to come across

sorry this is so long I’m just looking for answers to settle this little thought i have in my head. Again i hope you see this letter and if so thank you for reading :)

Ask Sam


Hi there,

It's important to understand the difference between what’s "okay" and what the law says. People will have their own views on what’s okay and what isn't. I think it's never okay to hurt you as punishment. Childline and many others think that too. The law can be complicated though and is different depending on where you live.

No matter where you live, if you’re injured by an adult then this is abuse and is against the law. If this is happening to you, it's a good idea to tell someone so you can get help - nobody should be hurt in this way, no matter how old they are. Things get a little more complicated if you’re being hurt, but not injured - like smacking as a punishment.

The United Nations says that children should be protected from physical and mental violence, including physical punishment. But in England and Northern Ireland the law doesn't fully protect children from physical assault. Parents can say they were using "reasonable punishment". This doesn't make it okay, but it does mean it's still legal. In Scotland and Wales it's the same at the moment but this is changing. Scottish law is set to change in November 2020 -  it will be illegal to hit a child and considered assault, just like it is with adults. In Wales this is set to change in 2022.

The important thing is that you feel safe and looked after - if you’re being punished a lot, that doesn't mean it's not illegal. Abuse can mean that someone is punished all of the time, which can be emotional abuse as well as physical. Don't keep it to yourself - tell an adult you trust or talk to Childline and our counsellors can help you decide what you want to do next.

I hope this has helped you and that you know where help is if you need it.

Take care.


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