A PROPOSAL to ban smacking children in Wales has been given an overwhelming thumbs-down in two public polls conducted by the Journal.

The plan by the Welsh Government, which is currently undergoing public consultation, has also come under fire from a former mayor and from a community volunteer, who works with young people.

In a Journal poll on Facebook, 74 per cent of people believed smacking was acceptable against 26 per cent who felt it should be banned.

In a separate poll on Twitter, the Journal found 29 per cent in favour of a ban, against 20 per cent who thought smacking was acceptable.

In addition, 34 per cent of people believed it was up to the parent and 17 per cent who felt a ban was unenforceable – an effective 71 per cent opposed to a ban.

Meanwhile, former Mayor of Towyn and Kinmel Bay Bill Darwin believes a ban would be unfair on parents.

Mr Darwin, who co-founded autism charity Creatasmile, said: “It seems a bit unfair to put more pressure on parents today when they now have to deal with things like bullying on social media and broken marriages. I was brought up being caned in school by excellent teachers who ruled by the rod.

“A clip around the ear could let you know you did wrong and it also let you know that adults were right.

“I’ve never smacked my children.

“You try to teach them, explain where they went wrong and show them a better way.

“Nowadays you could take away a child’s phone or stop them playing football for a couple of weeks instead.

“But you have to take it on a case-by-case basis, how do you police that?”

He added: “I know it’s not a perfect world, and obviously there’s a big difference between good and bad parents.

“If a parent is using discipline to justify bodily harm, that’s a very different story.

“Some parents who might have a child with autism or other needs, you can see in their eyes they have this 24/7 tiredness, quite often they are undiagnosed too, it might be a spur of a moment response - would it be fair to charge them?”

Veronica Wells, founder of the Pop In Centre youth project in Prestatyn, agreed with Mr Darwin.

She said: “Anything to do with the government getting involved with parenting is treading on dangerous ground.

“Parents need to be parents for the children. Is it abuse if you give a child a light slap on the wrist to teach them not to touch a hot stove? I don’t think it’s enforceable”

“It’s like whether to get your child vaccinated or send them to a private school. It’s a personal matter.”

The smacking ban proposal is supported, however, by Nerys Sandland, leader of Welsh language nursery Cylch Meithrin Abergele.

She said: “I think there should be an outright ban on smacking for parents, schools and nurseries and resources to teach parents how to raise their children positively.

“Of course a child needs to be taught discipline, but there are better ways to do that.

“We don’t even use the word ‘naughty’.

“If a child does something, we need to address, we take them to one side and praise the other children.

“If we can set an example by praising children, others are more likely to ask themselves ‘How can I be treated like that?’.”

A smacking ban would mean Wales joining Scotland in removing the defence of reasonable punishment to offences of battery and assault.

The 12-week consultation – launched by the Minister for Children and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies, has now been under way for three weeks and community leaders across the country are now having their say.