Wales could be the first UK country to ban smacking children
Wales could be the first country in the UK to ban smacking children if the common law defence of “reasonable punishment” is removed.
Ministers in Cardiff are hoping Wales will become the first country in the UK to stop fathers, mothers and other adults acting in a parental capacity from physically punishing their children. If the bill is passed by the assembly it will not stop parents from actions such as brushing a child’s hair against their will, or grabbing a child about to step out onto a busy road.
Wales’ Deputy Minister For Health And Social Services, Julie Morgan, has said that while smacking may have been deemed appropriate in the past, it is no longer acceptable. We are sending a clear message that the physical punishment of children is not acceptable in Wales, What may have been deemed as appropriate in the past is no longer acceptable. Our children must feel safe and be treated with dignity.
The Government-led bill has been supported by a number of children’s organisations, including Barnardo’s Action for Children and the NSPCC.
Viv Laing, head of policy at NSPCC Cymru, said: “It’s wrong that children in Wales have less protection from assault and that a legal defence which does not exist when an adult is hit can be used to justify striking a child”.
“We have long campaigned for equal protection for children and we strongly believe a change in the law is a common-sense move. Closing this loophole brings Wales in line with dozens of countries across the world and is simply about fairness and equality for our children.” he added.
Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, also added: “When a parent raises a hand to a defenceless child, whether that’s a smack, slap or another physically harmful behaviour, they have lost control”.
Research tells us that children who are physically punished are more likely to have poorer mental health and physical well-being and when they grow up, are more likely to engage in self-destructive or antisocial behaviour. Hurting a child isn’t acceptable and it is a form of child abuse.
On the other hand, Lowri Turner, of campaign group Be Reasonable, said: “It is disappointing that the Welsh Government has decided to press on with this unnecessary piece of legislation that will do nothing to protect children, but will criminalise loving parents”.
As we have seen from a slew of Freedom of Information requests, parents suspected of smacking face suspension, an investigation by the police and social services, and prosecution.
Wales would join the 54 other countries that have already banned such physical punishment of children if the proposal goes ahead.
The children will have similar protection from physical punishment as an adult if the law passed by the Welsh Assembly.
A debate will take place in the Welsh Assembly between the Assembly members to conclude whether to pass the law or not.
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