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Minister wants new debate on smacking

Family minister calls for more discussion and an awareness campaign, after law banning smacking was postponed in May

FRANCE'S government wants to reignite the debate on smacking, with the country's family minister campaigning for children to have the right to "an education without violence".

In a radio interview for Europe 1, Laurence Rossignol said there are no plans to introduce a draft law at this stage but she hoped there would be an awareness and prevention campaign to begin more discussion on the issue.

She said: "When people witness a man beating a woman, they intervene and try to separate them. If you see someone abusing an animal, you step in. The only living beings that are hit without us saying anything are children."

Ms Rossignol added: "You can be a good parent and be obeyed without having to resort to violence."

The issue was due to be debated in parliament in May, but was postponed. Environmentalist MP François-Michel Lambert had tabled an amendment to a law, which said that "legal guardians cannot use corporal punishment or physical violence against children".

The debate has rumbled on for years. In 2009, an MP called for a ban on smacking. And, last year, a graphic video supporting a ban on smacking caused outrage when it was broadcast on TV.

French law on violence includes an exception for educational purposes - called a "droit de correction".

A court in Limoges issued a €500 suspended fine to a father last October for smacking his nine-year-old son.

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