Ban on smacking 'would improve parenting skills'
Parents should be banned from smacking their children, the deputy head of the Council of Europe has said.
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio said a ban on physical chastisement would improve parenting skills.
Parents at present can smack their children for the purposes of "reasonable" punishment.
Attempts by some MPs and charities to introduce an all-out ban on smacking have so far failed. Smacking is not permitted in schools in the UK.
Ms de Boer-Buquicchio, in a letter to the Daily Telegraph, has now joined the debate to express her view that it is not wrong for the state to interfere over this aspect of family life.
Speaking in her capacity as deputy secretary general of the Council of Europe -which was founded in 1949 to promote greater unity across the continent - she said smacking stopped the country evolving into a more respectful society.
She said a ban on smacking was crucial when "protecting the physical and psychological integrity of women and children at home".
"A legal ban is not a crusade against parents: it is the definite push that society needs to start resorting to non-violent and more efficient forms of discipline," she wrote.
"A legal ban neither erodes parental authority nor questions the need for discipline. It just challenges the use of violence.
"I firmly believe that the existence of a legal defence for parents who 'reasonably chastise' their children effectively halts the evolution towards a society more respectful of children's rights and parents' potential to improve their parental skills."
In March, Schools Secretary Ed Balls stated his decision to close a legal loophole whereby adults working in part-time education settings in England, including religious lessons taught in madrassas, could smack children.
But his intention has been put on hold, because of the election.
Smacking was already banned in state and private schools and nurseries, but this had not covered educational settings where lessons were taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week.