The NSPCC has condemned a judge's remarks that police and social workers should make an allowance for "cultural context" when investigating allegations that children have been physically abused by parents.
High Court judge Mrs Justice Pauffley said within "many communities newly arrived" in the UK children were "slapped and hit" for misbehaviour in a way which "at first excites the interest of child protection professionals".
The children's charity responded to the comments saying different cultural practices are "no excuse for child abuse".
An NSPCC spokesman said: "Children need to be protected irrespective of cultural sensitivities. Different practices are no excuse for child abuse taking place in this country and the law doesn't make that distinction.
"Every child deserves the right to be safe and protected from physical abuse and the courts must reflect this."
The judge made her comments in a ruling on a case in which a boy, who turns eight this month, complained that his father physically assaulted him.
She said proper allowance had to be made for "what is almost certainly a different cultural context".
The boy's parents met and married in India a decade ago, travelling to England on a six-month visa. They decided not to return when the visas ran out and became "overstayers", the court heard.
The man launched family court litigation by asking a judge to return the boy to his care after he was arrested on suspicion of assaulting his wife and told to stay away from her and the youngster.
The boy made "physical assault allegations" about his father and told investigators: "With his belt, he kind of hits me."
He described being hit on his back and leg with a "long belt".
Mrs Justice Pauffley said the man denied striking his son "with a belt or otherwise".
She concluded, following a hearing in London, that he had assaulted his wife but had not physically abused his son. No one involved was identified in the ruling.
Mrs Justice Pauffley said: "I do not believe there was punitively harsh treatment of (the boy) of the kind that would merit the term physical abuse.
"Proper allowance must be made for what is almost certainly a different cultural context."
She added: "In this instance ... (the boy) did not appear to have suffered more than sadness and transient pain from what was done to him."
She concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, the man subjected his wife to a "horribly aggressive and violent assault" in October last year.
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