ALMOST two thirds of adults in Northern Ireland are in favour of legal reform to end the physical punishment of children.
New research published by the NSPCC found that 65 per cent of adults, rising to 71 per cent of parents, would support removing the defence of reasonable punishment of children and giving children the same protection in law as adults.
Currently, the law in Northern Ireland allows parents or those caring for a child to physically punish them, by enabling them to raise a defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ if they are charged with an offence of assault.
The research also found that support for legal reform rose to 70 per cent of adults and 74 per cent of parents if the change was accompanied with information and support on how to manage children’s behaviour effectively.
The research also found that only 25 per cent of adults and 23 per cent of parents surveyed consider physical punishment an effective form of discipline.
Natalie Whelehan, NSPCC Northern Ireland Policy and Public Affairs manager, said: "An overwhelming number of parents and other adults surveyed welcomed legal reform in Northern Ireland.
"At the NSPCC we believe that it is vital the Northern Ireland Assembly listens to parents, reforms the law and gives them the information and support they clearly require, in line with its commitments on positive parenting."