Today host Karl Stefanovic erupts over smacking ban proposal for parents

It’s an age-old debate that continues to divide parents, but there are now calls to make smacking your child a criminal offence.

The push to ban smacking has left some parents gobsmacked — including Today host Karl Stefanovic, who didn’t hold back when discussing the contentious issue on the show.

Speaking with child clinical psychologist Professor Sophie Havighurst on Thursday morning, Stefanovic immediately told her: “You’ve got a job ahead of you convincing me that this is a good idea".

Karl Stefanovic reacts to the proposed ban on smacking.
Karl Stefanovic said the thought of parents getting charged for smacking their child made his mind "explode". Source: Channel 9

Pointing to the early findings of the Australian Child Maltreatment Study, Prof Havighurst explained data found that 61 per cent of young Australians ages 16 to 24 have had at least four times in their lives when they have been smacked.

“We now know that doubles their chances of anxiety and depression,” she said.

Prof Havighurst said those results aren’t just linked to parents who “do awful things to their children all the time”, but includes any form of smacking or physical discipline.

She added that bringing in a law will help to change attitudes to smacking, and help parents find alternative ways of dealing with difficult behaviour.

“Do you know what though, I don’t want to see any more legislation,” Stefanovic bit back. “Any more legislation around me as a parent… I mean my head just explodes.

“And the idea of parents being charged or going into court for smacking a child. I mean come on Sophie, give me a break, please.”

Interestingly, when the same law was introduced in New Zealand in 2007 it didn’t spark an increase in charges, Prof Havighurst said.

“We do know that law change can guide us to use other ways of parenting, and that’s really important," she said.

“I just don’t want ever to have an incident with my child [where] they turn around and say, ‘I’m calling my lawyer’,” Stefanovic joked.

The full findings of the Australian Child Maltreatment Study are due to be released next year.

Hosts reveal if they smack their own kids

Discussing the topic with his Today co-hosts, Stefanovic revealed he felt comfortable with a smack on the hand if the child was about to do something dangerous – like touch a hot stove.

"Something in that regard, then I think that is fine," he said.

Ally Langdon said that she has “tapped” her child in similar circumstances, while all agreed that spanking your child over your lap is inappropriate.

Alex Cullen, who has three-year-old twins and a baby boy, said he couldn’t ever bring himself to hurt his children.

"I wouldn't even think of smacking my children. I can't imagine doing it," he said.

Do you have a story tip? Email:

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.