A leading doctor has reignited the debate over smacking by calling for a ban the practice saying it contradicts ambitions about protecting and respecting children.

Dr Lucy Reynolds, a consultant community paediatrician in Glasgow, said hitting a child was a violent act and inconsistent with the government aim to create a child-centred society.

Its policy Getting it Right for Every Child draws on eight markers - being safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible and included - to highlight areas of child well-being.

"I can't see how smacking is in any way consistent with nurturing, respecting and keeping a child safe," said Dr Reynolds.

"My career in medicine is all about reducing suffering in children and helping them to reach their potential. All of my training has had those ends in focus - yet we have a legal system that says it is fine to inflict pain on vulnerable young individuals. To me this makes no sense at all," said the doctor who is a fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of the International Society of Social Paediatrics and Child Health.

"If the law doesn't allow a person to hit another adult it shouldn't allow them to hit a child.

"We can't be the child-centred society I would aspire to while our law states categorically that we as a nation think it can be justifiable for an adult to assault a child."

Dr Reynolds, who works in the Glenfarg Child Development Centre in Possilpark, added that using violence as a method of discipline conveyed the message to children that physical aggression and violence were socially acceptable.

"If a parent hits a young child, the lesson the child learns from that is that hitting is an acceptable form of behaviour. It is modelling violence to be a solution to something," she said.

She believed parents should reward and praise good behaviour and use other strategies such as distraction and 'time out' as ways of disciplining children.

The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 allows parents or carers to hit a child so long as the punishment goes no further than "reasonable chastisement". Hitting a child on the head or with an implement, or shaking a child is not allowed.

But Dr Reynolds said among the problems with the legislation is that there is no objective measure to define what is 'reasonable chastisement'.

She also believed that what may start as a light smack can escalate to become a more severe physical punishment when parents are angry.

A wealth of recent research has highlighted the damaging impact smacking can have on children. One study carried out in 2013 at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at Glasgow University found hitting a child posed a serious risk to his or her development.

In 2003 Scottish ministers dropped proposals for a ban on corporal punishment of children under three after a public backlash and a warning from police that it could give them increasing workloads and be unworkable. The move left ministers at odds with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child - which says the practice should be illegal.

Spain, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, New Zealand, are among 44 countries to have made smacking illegal in all settings including the family home.

Dr Reynolds insisted that more than a decade on from the previous attempt Scottish legislators should propose a ban again.

Dr Reynolds' intervention was supported last night by the main anti-smacking campaign group.

Alison Todd, spokeswoman for Children Are Unbeatable, said: "With a new First Minister, Justice Minister and cabinet in place we have a real opportunity to remove the defence of physical punishment and shape what we want this country to be like for our children.

"We can ensure that the assault of a person - young or old - is never 'justifiable'. We can make Scotland the best place in the world to grow up."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government does We do support smacking. However, we do not wish to criminalise parents for lightly smacking their child. The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 clearly outlines what is unacceptable punishment."