Wales moves to protect children from smacking

Author: Jo Carlowe

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The Welsh government has introduced a Bill which aims to protect children from physical punishment.

This week, deputy minister for health and social services, Julie Morgan, announced the introduction of the Children Wales Bill which, if passed, will not create a new offence, but will remove the common law defence of reasonable punishment.

Removing the defence of reasonable punishment is a long-standing commitment and part of the Welsh government’s national strategy, ‘Prosperity for All’.

If the Bill is passed by the National Assembly for Wales, parents and other adults acting in a parental capacity will no longer be able to physically punish children. In other words, children will have the same protection from physical punishment as adults.

The move has been welcomed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Its president, Professor Russel Viner, said: “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.

“It’s time to change to the law to make it clear that physical punishment is unacceptable and we’re glad to see Welsh government wants to give children the same protection as adults.”

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