Maggie Atkinson said it was her personal view that the law gives pets and adults more rights to be protected from violence than children, and she would like to see a total ban, with parents facing criminal action for corporal punishment.
Current rules make it illegal for a parent to smack a child if it leaves a bruise, but permit a lighter smack or “reasonable chastisement”.
Atkinson said: “Personally, having been a teacher, and never having had an issue where I’d need to use physical punishment, I believe we should move to ban it. Because in law you are forbidden from striking another adult, and from physically chastising your pets, but somehow there is a loophole around the fact that you can physically chastise your child.”
Tottenham MP David Lammy said early last year that legislation surrounding the smacking of children needed to be relaxed so working-class parents could instil discipline in their homes without fearing prosecution. He claimed Labour’s 2004 decision to tighten up the smacking law was partly to blame for last summer’s riots, which erupted in his north London constituency.
Atkinson, who has two adult stepchildren, said that despite her strong feelings about the issue, her office was not planning to fight for a ban next year because in the current climate such a move would be “running up a blind alley”.
Her comments were likely to reopen the debate about what constituted reasonable punishment of children, the newspaper said.
She added: “It’s a moral issue. The morals are that, taken to its extreme, physical chastisement is actually physical abuse and I have never understood where you can draw the line between one and the other. Better that it were not permitted.”