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Legality of smacking

(40 Posts)
Asteria36 Sat 07-Nov-15 17:10:05

DH has made it very clear that he totally disapproves of smacking and before separation his exW was on the same page as him.
The dsc moved with their mother to live with her partner a couple of years ago and it came to light that he "hit" (his words) his own children in front of the dsc and used the threat of violence as a means of controlling the dsc. DH has made it very clear that he disapproves of this method and that he absolutely does not want his children to be punished in this way.
DSS kicked his mother's dog (he said that the partner does it when the dog barks) and her partner smacked him and then kicked him. DH is absolutely fuming but is being told there is nothing he can do about it - his exW and her partner have said that they will continue to use threats of and actual violence to control the dsc.
We have been combing through the Internet trying to find a decisive guideline on smacking children that one has no parental responsibility for (it is only the partner who does it) and if it is worth us stretching our already strained finances in order to get this stopped.
Any constructive advice as to how DH can manage this situation would be hugely appreciated.

rainydaygrey Sat 07-Nov-15 17:12:05

What country are you in?

Asteria36 Sat 07-Nov-15 17:12:50

We are in England

LookingUpAtTheStars Sat 07-Nov-15 17:15:09

I'd be reporting him for assault for kicking my child if I were your dh.

rozepanther Sat 07-Nov-15 17:17:32

As I understand it it's legal in England as long as it leaves no marks. In that case it does not fall under common assault and is termed "reasonable chastisement".

However, kicking is not considered "reasonable chastisement".

I'm not a lawyer and don't work in the field, it's just something I looked into a little while ago.

Awful situation for you and your DH though - and your DSS.

StormyBlue Sat 07-Nov-15 17:18:21

Coincidentally, I was at safeguarding training today. The instructor said that only the child's parents (so I assuming PR would be needed) are allowed to physically chastise them, never on the face, and not badly enough to leave bruises or marks that last more than a couple of hours.

BertieBotts Sat 07-Nov-15 17:19:41

In England the law is that smacking is allowed if it is "reasonable chastisement" and does not leave a mark. It's also expressly illegal to hit with an object. I think kicking would be illegal. I don't think you could class kicking as smacking.

I believe it's illegal to hit animals under the Animal Welfare Act but don't know if that would be of any relevance. And apparently the RSPCA are useless at enforcing this anyway.

I would be contacting NSPCC or social services if I were him and asking for their advice/guidance.

Who is telling your DH that he can't do anything about it?

StormyBlue Sat 07-Nov-15 17:21:22

Oh yes, and they should only be struck with a hand.

Disclaimer: I agree with your DH that hitting a child is very low indeed and shit parenting.

mrsmilktray Sat 07-Nov-15 17:22:12

Surely he can't legally hit your child as he is not the parent?

BertieBotts Sat 07-Nov-15 17:22:34

"He kicked the dog (which he learnt from me) so I kicked him" is not reasonable punishment in 2015. Maybe in 1915. hmm It's the kind of reasoning a seven year old has to try and get out of trouble at school. They could probably justify a smack - not a kick. And as Stormy says, it might be that it has to be the legal parent, not a boyfriend of the parent.

popperdoodles Sat 07-Nov-15 17:23:24

No adult has any right to hit a child, not even their parents. Reasonable chastisement is a legal defence so for example you hit your child and leave no mark you can still be reported and should it be investigated further then you can claim reasonable chastisement. That is what I learnt in safeguarding training or my understanding atleast. The law as always is open to interpretation

pinkyredrose Sat 07-Nov-15 17:26:33

I'd call the rspca and SS. The dog needs to be rehomed. Could DC come and live with you?

Noeuf Sat 07-Nov-15 17:32:37

Asteria36 Sat 07-Nov-15 17:33:28

DH has been told it is their word against DSS. The fact that the partner swore that he hadn't hit or kicked DSS but knew exactly the incident that DH was talking about was really suspect.
There are greater EA issues here and the exW is incredibly tricky so we are very very wary of rocking the boat. In the past even tiny incidents that we have raised have resulted in "punishment" either directly on DH and I or via the children which is incredibly damaging for them. If we know that something decisive would be done (cafcas were beyond useless last time we went to court over neglect and emotional abuse) rather than some wishy-washy bullshit that cost us a fortune and just pissed off the exW and her partner further, then we would happily take this as far as possible. We just have to tread on bloody eggshells all the time and are desperately worried about making life worse rather than better for the dsc.

StormyBlue Sat 07-Nov-15 17:41:47

Tricky, I understand why you're unsure of what to do. I want to say report it anyway though, because just having records of accused physical assaults could compile and get taken more seriously, or if a future allegation comes from elsewhere it would be taken as more credible.

Asteria36 Sat 07-Nov-15 17:46:27

My therapist has offered to make a statement on my behalf as he feels that the emotional abuse alone is enough to be taken seriously. However DH has called their local ss a number of times and they were unbelievably dismissive. Our local authority was more helpful but referred us to the dsc's local ss as they couldn't act on anything. We would happily have the dsc living here and they have expressed a wish to live here on a number of occasions. A legal battle would put us in a position that would probably leave us homeless though. The exW has a lot of money so she would be able to fight as long as she wanted whereas we could barely scrape together the finances for a solicitor's consultation.

BertieBotts Sat 07-Nov-15 23:57:02

It's such a shame that they cut legal aid sad

Asteria36 Sun 08-Nov-15 00:30:03

It's such a shame that people have little option other than to go to court to get these matters sorted Bertie. DH has mentioned the matter to school and social services - form what he can gather, if he was still with his ex and the children were being abused within that relationship then SS would do something about it. Because they are divorced and it is one parent seemingly against the other they don't want to touch the situation. They would rather DH had the nightmare of a court process to drag his DC though than to do the bloody job they are supposed to, which is to support families and protect children.

DontMindMe1 Sun 08-Nov-15 12:23:22

i rang the police on my dad when i was young when he battered us. he never did it again.

Asteria36 Sun 08-Nov-15 17:26:35

We have had the weekend with the dsc and they are both pale and have dark circles under their eyes. We had dsd in bed with us last night and DSS is unbelievably subdued, increasingly so as their time with us draws to a close.
DH doesn't want to send them home as he is so worried about them - but their school is over an hours drive away so we can't keep them here unless we take them out of school.
They have told us more about the smacking incident - by all accounts their mothers partner bent DSS over the arm of the sofa to smack him, it was by no means an impulse smack in the heat of the moment. DH is fraught. The exW and her partner sat the dsc down after DH initially confronted him (and he denied everything - she refused to comment) and told them that he knew they were telling us lies about him. The dsc are petrified of seeing him when they get home and both have what we believe to be phsychosematic (sp?) tummy and headaches. Can we just keep them here? If there is physical and emotional abuse can we just refuse to send them home?

Noeuf Sun 08-Nov-15 17:45:07

Tell the children to speak to a teacher if they need to. If it's you v them it's much harder - someone neutral might find it easier to access help.
You can say that if they are really worried about being safe and can't talk to you, they an tell teachers/other (brownie leader etc)

Asteria36 Sun 08-Nov-15 17:57:16

Both are far too nervy to approach a teacher, it took months for them to reach a point that they felt able to talk to me about things that worry them. Even then dsd tends to shut down unless it is during a longer stay with us. They struggle to verbalise feelings beyond happy and sad so I really can't imagine them telling a teacher what they are going through.

StopShoutingAtYourBrother Sun 08-Nov-15 17:58:08

I have no direct experience of safeguarding but wanted to reply.

Agree with Noeuf about encouraging the children to speak to a teacher about it, either this incidence or any future ones. The school should take this very seriously.

It reads more to me from what you have said OP that this is less of an ideological view on smacking and more that you have welfare concerns about the children's safety.

Are you in a position to speak to Social Services about your concerns? I appreciate the position with tricky exw but sounds like the children are scared. Ensure your dsc know they are loved and always welcome at yours.

Asteria36 Sun 08-Nov-15 17:59:02

They have both mentioned "mummy and [partner] told us we couldn't talk to you about that..." too.

Asteria36 Sun 08-Nov-15 18:01:40

Our house was recently used as an "if you don't do x we will send you to live at daddy's house" punishment so we have been very careful to tell them that this is their home and that we love having them here with us.

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