With Scotland set to become the first country in the UK to make smacking illegal, a campaign against the ban is being prepared north of the Border.
A ComRes poll commissioned by the campaign group Be Reasonable Scotland showed 74 per cent of Scots did not believe smacking should be a criminal offence. Work on the campaign, which is supported by the Christian Institute and the Family Education Trust, has been taking place over the last few weeks.
The findings of the poll of 1,010 people were released after the Scottish Government said it would ensure Green MSP John Finnie’s member’s bill advocating a smacking ban would gets through Holyrood.
Labour has also said it intends to support Mr Finnie’s bill, making its passage through parliament a formality.
Children’s Commissioners in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK back a ban. But the Be Reasonable campaign accused ministers of breaking its promise not criminalise ordinary parents for smacking children.
In April, the Scottish Government said it was opposed to physical punishment of children, but did not intend to bring forward legislation that “could potentially criminalise parents for lightly smacking their children”.
According to the ComRes survey, three-quarters of those surveyed believed parents, rather than the state, should decide on smacking.
Eight out of ten felt legislation would see police and social workers overwhelmed, and two-thirds thought it was sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child.
Those against a smacking ban believe existing laws are strong enough to punish those who assault children.
Be Reasonable Scotland said: “Criminalising parents for smacking their own children is a gross intrusion on family life by politicians who are totally out of touch with real people. It will overload police and social workers, making it even harder for them to find and help children who are being abused.”
It added: “It’s one thing to have an opinion about smacking. It’s another to criminalise those who parent differently from you.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Mr Finnie’s proposals are not a Scottish Government bill, however, we will ensure the proposals become law.
“We believe physical punishment can have negative effects on children which can last long after the physical pain has died away.”