The West

A Perth paediatrician has reignited debate about whether parents should be allowed to smack their children by calling for a ban, arguing it would lead to less child abuse.

Gervase Chaney, a doctor at Princess Margaret Hospital and head of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians' paediatric and child-health division, wants the group to officially support a ban as it reviews its policy on child protection.

He said the college's current policy opposed physical discipline but he felt it did not go far enough and would push it to support a formal ban.

Dr Chaney accepted some people would feel a ban was over the top and it would take time to gain the support needed to introduce laws.

The Presbyterian Church is among groups opposed to the move.

It told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry late last year a ban would mean everyday mums and dads could face court for disciplining their children.

In its submission about a proposed human rights charter, it said many Australian families used reasonable physical discipline "from time to time."

"There is a significant body of research confirming its utility in raising children well," the Church said in its submission.

But Dr Chaney rejected claims that smacking children was a part of good parenting or that a ban would lead to police harassing parents who gave their children a smack on the hand.

He said there was evidence from countries such as Sweden and Germany that a ban on smacking led to a decline in child abuse.

"No one is saying you shouldn't discipline your children because children do need limits, but they don't need to be struck," he said.

"It's also about how you want to bring up your children.

"I've made this a very personal issue because my wife and I made a decision back in January 2000 that we would no longer smack our children.

"At the time we had two children aged four and five and another just arrived.

"We had occasionally resorted to giving them a smack but it hadn't seemed to work very well and had just made us upset and miserable."

Dr Chaney said smacking was a form of violence no matter how people tried to explain it away as discipline.

He said it was once considered acceptable for men to hit their wives.

The West Australian

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