A state funded survey has revealed that a third of Irish parents believe they should have the right to smack their children.

The study, Parenting Styles and Discipline: Parent's and Chidren's Perspectives, was funded by the Minister for Children's office.

It found that 25% of respondents hit their children in the previous year and fathers were more inclined to support the legal smacking of children.

However 42% of parents believe that smacking should be outlawed, but a majority of respondents are unsure if a complete ban should be introduced.

Respondents believe that a ban should be age sensitive with kids aged below five years and over 10 years exempt from being physically punished.

Over 60% of respondents believed that smacking was not necessary to rear a well behaved child but 59.5% said that parents should have the right to smack a child if they so wished.

Director of Services for the ISPCC, Caroline O'Sullivan, said she knew why parents did not support a full smacking ban.

"I feel that when parents are asked a direct question, like should it be banned completely, their automatic response would be no because they may have been slapped themselves as children and there is the emotional link with their own parents, who weren’t abusive towards them," she said.

"I think this report is really positive. Parents have been incredibly honest when asked about how they discipline their children and are open to looking at other options besides physical punishment."

The Government promised to ban corporal punishment in 2005 but have failed to commit to their promise.

Children respondents believe that smacking stopped bad or dangerous behaviour but had no long term positive effects.