In common with other groups opposed to the abuse of children, the United Nations, in its recent report on Britain's record, has confused judicious smacking with irrational violence (UN takes Britain to task over smacking, October 5).

Pain is a natural warning process and, when applied appropriately, is extremely successful. When a child is too young to understand rational argument (usually in their first two or three years of life), smacking is often the only way to discipline them. After all, it is the way that they learn in other areas of their life - walking into obstructions, putting fingers into or onto hot things, etc.

Sadly, far too many people use smacking as a final resort, when they have already lost their temper and become out of control. This obviously results in unacceptable abuse of a child. If people were to use it as a first resort, it would be far less vicious and more effective.

However, even this misses the real issue. Any discipline, physical or otherwise, must be applied within a context of a loving relationship. Without this context, any form of discipline will create the damaged, unbalanced and alienated children that everyone, and not simply the pressure groups, are concerned about.
Andrew Bowdler
Dinas Powys, South Glam
[email protected]

· Why do we feel the need to make parental smacking illegal? The introduction of such legislation could only lead to the development of a new breed of arrogance within rebellious children - followed speedily, no doubt, by an anglicised version of the Oprah Winfrey Show, a perfect environment for this new breed to vent their angst. Do we really want to go down this politically correct path the Americans so happily tread ?

Yes, child abuse is wrong, and in some cases smacking children progresses to a form of abuse, however a token gesture in the form of the proposed legislation is simply ignoring the wider issues. More time and money needs to be spent on education and support for parents, social workers, health visitors and other care agencies, ensuring they have adequate resources to administer their care effectively. This is how we can reduce the incidence of child abuse, not through the introduction of unnecessary crowd-pleasing laws.
Claudia Tye

· Fox hunting and hitting our kids - a ban on two of our precious national sports? If it ever did legislate, New Labour would never get back into power.
Joe Phillips
Bingham, Notts



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