THREE in four people would support children being given the same protection against assault as adults, as long as parents were not prosecuted for trivial smacks.
The finding emerged in a MORI poll for Children are Unbeatable, an alliance of 300 child welfare and health organisations.
The same proportion believed that parents should not be allowed to hi children under two, and 87 per cent said hitting children with canes, belts or slippers should be banned.
Sweden banned smacking in 1979 and a leaflet was sent to every home telling parents how to bring up children without hitting them. Only one child there has died as a result of parental abuse in 20 years; in Britain one child dies every week.