A large majority of Tele readers believe parents should be allowed to smack their children, as plans to outlaw the punishment look set to be passed by the Scottish Government.
But children’s campaigners support the ban, saying the practice could bring children up believing that certain forms of violence are acceptable.
Almost 500 people voted in our online poll which asked whether parents should be allowed to smack their children, with 75% in favour of keeping Scottish law’s “justifiable assault” defence.
Of the 488 readers who responded, 364 were in favour of smacking while 122 were opposed.
Critics of the proposed ban, using figures from the Welsh government’s police liason unit, claim Police Scotland would have to investigate as many as 2,370 smacking allegations in the first five years of the new law being implemented.
But Beth Morrison, who has campaigned for years against the use of restraint against children, said: “I’ve been following this Bill closely for some time now and I don’t think anyone should be violent towards a child.
“So I am in favour of not using any kind of physical punishment on children, including smacking.
“Nor do I believe that children should have less protection from assault than adults.”
But Beth added that the Bill only really applied to parents, and not other care providers who look after children.
“The problem is that it only really applies to parents and their extended families,” she said.
“It does not protect children who are ‘looked after’ in kinship care or residential homes and neither does it apply to staff in schools. Why not?
“This means that staff in residential settings, children’s homes or schools – where they use restraint as a means of controlling and managing behaviour, which can seriously injure a child – are able to use some forms of physical punishment on children legally. Yet parents in a family home will be criminalised if they dare to smack their child even if there is no mark, bruise or injury.
“If we are going to introduce this Bill, then it should surely apply to all children in all settings, otherwise it is completely unfair and once again, families and parents are seen as being ‘the problem’.
“We cannot have a situation where professionals are held to a different standard of accountability from parents and families.
“That’s exactly what this Bill will do.”
Dundee children’s charity Eighteen and Under provides a confidential support service for young victims of serious sexual abuse.
Manager Laurie Matthew said: “I am very much in favour of the smacking ban.
“Smacking a child is never acceptable in any circumstances.
“Like many others I was smacked as a child and people will tell you it never did them any harm but there are countless cases where it has caused a substantial degree of harm.”
Laurie said that one of her main concerns was that by smacking a child, it was teaching them that violence was acceptable.
She added: “It doesn’t matter if it is a tap or a firmer smack – what we are teaching by doing that is that it is ok to raise your hand to someone. That is not how we should be teaching our children to behave.”
Laurie said parents should be taught that there are other ways of educating children that do not involve physical punishment.
She added: “Positive reinforcement works much better.”
Legislation banning the smacking of children won the backing of a Holyrood committee earlier this week.
A majority of the members on the equalities committee backed a Bill, which had been put forward by Green MSP John Finnie.
Mr Finnie claimed it was a way to give children “equal protection from assault”.
The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill would remove the defence of “reasonable chastisement” or “justifiable assault” in Scots law, which allows parents to use physical punishment on children.
The Tele results seem to show Dundee has the opposite opinion of the nation.
A public consultation on the issue in 2017 received more than 650 responses, with about 75% being in favour of the ban on smacking.
Conservative MSPs on the committee dissented from the report, saying they were “unconvinced” by the Bill.
Tory representatives Oliver Mundell and Annie Wells admitted they did not agree with the conclusions of the report.
The pair said in an annexe to the main report that they remained “unconvinced by the evidence before the committee that most people living in Scotland would see parental smacking as constituting the level of sinister and serious violence that the criminal law should be addressing”.
Experts had previously warned that criminalising parents who smacked their children would be “negative, patronising and elitist”.
Dr Stuart Waiton of Abertay University said parents would react with “horror and disgust” if physical discipline was compared to child abuse.
He added: “Children who are being seriously abused and battered might get lost in a sea of complaints by caring professionals who are now reporting every smacking incident.”