Parents hugely under-report use of smacking

The Daily Telegraph May 14, 2010

Half of all parents of toddlers have smacked their children and yet only one in 10 believe they use physical punishment, a survey has found. And parents find queuing in a supermarket with their toddlers – surrounded by lollies at the checkout – more stressful than any other event. …The most intriguing result was the high number of parents who admitted to having hit their toddler – 47 per cent – yet, when asked if they used “physical discipline” on their child, only 5 per cent of respondents said yes. Another 7 per cent said they threatened discipline – such as a wooden spoon – but rarely carried it out.

Parenting expert Janet Cater, who has long called for parents to be tougher on their kids, said while many parents may have hit their kids in frustration or anger, they still did not consider themselves to be using corporal punishment. “I’m not surprised. I think they often think ‘Oh I have done that in the past but I don’t do it’,” she said. Ms Cater said she did not endorse smacking but it could be effective. “Sometimes people use a short gentle smack as a circuit breaker,” she said.