Charity Says Time is Right to Outlaw Slapping

A government-backed positive-parenting campaign should be launched to help carers develop alternatives to slapping, a charity said yesterday. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children urged the Irish government to show its support for parents by launching a state-funded campaign to help people use the most effective parenting methods.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: “The ISPCC believe that the time is right for the government to introduce legislation to ban all physical punishment of children, a move that would bring Ireland in line with 14 other EU states.

“Irish society needs to show its full commitment to protect and cherish its children, a vision perhaps best encapsulated in this important strategy.
“We urgently need to make this vision a reality.”

Figures from the charity show that its Child Focus service worked on a one-to-one basis with 215 children last year.Each child received around 24 sessions of therapeutic counselling support, focusing on issues such as parental separation, loss, bereavement, and behavioural and school-related difficulties.

The service works with vulnerable children aged 12 years of age or under who are experiencing behavioural or emotional difficulties. It aims to support the children in resolving their difficulties and build each child’s psychological resilience to enable them to overcome future problems.

The spokeswoman said: “Child Focus has a very important role to play in helping children build psychological resilience at primary school age.

“It is a well-accepted fact that it is far easier to build strong young people at this stage in their lives, enabling them to develop the necessary resilience to overcome difficulties, maximise their full potential and participate actively and constructively within society.”

The service also uses web-based, phone and text counselling, as well as the more traditional face-to-face counselling approach. Last year, 1,187 children took part in group work programmes centred on issues such as self-esteem, bullying and the transition to secondary school.

Around 280 parents or carers took part in the charity’s Child Focus parenting courses. The service is also seeking to expand the range of support available to parents and carers at a local level by linking trained volunteer parent mentors with parents or carers of the charity’s client children who may need support.