Wales could ban parents and carers from smacking children

Government proposes removing defence of reasonable punishment from offences of assault and battery

Parents and carers could be banned from smacking children under legislation proposed by the Welsh government.

The administration plans to remove the defence of reasonable punishment from the offences of assault and battery, meaning that any adult looking after a child in Wales would not legally be able to hit him or her.

Welsh ministers say the changes will give parents clarity about what they can and cannot do to discipline a child. But some parents’ and family groups are opposed to the plans, claiming they will criminalise fathers and mothers.

In an attempt to win over the doubters, the Welsh government is launching a 12-week consultation to hear all views.

Huw Irranca-Davies, the minister for children and social care, said: “We all want to give our children the best start in life. As a parent of three boys myself, I know being a parent can sometimes be a challenging experience. Children do not come with an instruction manual and sometimes parents need guidance and support to help them raise healthy and happy children.

“Our knowledge of what children need to grow and thrive has developed considerably over the last 20 years. We now know that physical punishment can have negative long-term impacts on a child’s life chances and we also know it is an ineffective punishment.

He added: “While physically punishing children was accepted as normal practice in previous generations, we know that it is increasingly being seen as less acceptable and parents feel less comfortable.

“We want parents in Wales to be confident in managing their children’s behaviour without feeling they must resort to physical punishment. If there is any potential risk of harm to a child then it is our obligation as a government to take action. Legislation was introduced many years ago to stop physical punishment in schools and childcare settings – now is the time to ensure it is no longer acceptable anywhere.”

On the consultation, he added: “I am aware there are differing views on this legislation; this consultation provides an opportunity for everyone to have their say to help us try to address concerns as the legislation develops.”

In October the Scottish government confirmed its support for a ban on smacking, a move backed by the children’s commissioners of the four UK nations.Ends


Steven Morris

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Wales introduces ban on smacking and slapping children
Welsh government hails ‘historic moment’ for children’s rights amid calls for England to follow suit

Steven Morris

21, Mar, 2022 @12:01 AM

Article image
Wales to ban parents smacking their children from 2022
Bill passes despite concerns it is ‘stepping into the private lives of families’

Steven Morris

28, Jan, 2020 @10:44 PM

Article image
Parents in Wales told to send sick children to school
Pupils with ailments including headlice, conjunctivitis, tonsillitis or glandular fever expected to continue attending classes

Haroon Siddique

12, Oct, 2014 @10:23 PM

Article image
Calls for UK-wide ban on smacking children after Scottish move
Children’s commissioners of all four nations welcome confirmation Scotland will give minors same legal protection as adults

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

19, Oct, 2017 @2:18 PM

Article image
Labour MP backs smacking of children

David Lammy steps back from partly blaming riots on anti-smacking laws but says law must be relaxed so parents can instil discipline at home

Alexandra Topping

29, Jan, 2012 @7:17 PM

Article image
‘Terrible emptiness’: parents struggle with children leaving home
Survey of parents of first-year students found 98% felt extreme grief after the closeness of lockdown

Amelia Hill

08, Oct, 2021 @12:06 PM

Article image
Smacking children to be banned in Wales
New law will remove Victorian defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ by parents

Steven Morris

25, Mar, 2019 @12:01 AM

Article image
Banning smacking won't stop it happening. Parents need more support | Nell Frizzell
The Welsh government has banned smacking. But at the same time services that help parents cope are being destroyed, columnist and writer Nell Frizzell

Nell Frizzell

26, Mar, 2019 @10:00 AM

Article image
Welsh schools to offer cheaper uniforms with gender-neutral options
Rules will need to be redrawn to avoid exclusive deals locking parents into a single supplier

Richard Adams Education editor

10, Jul, 2019 @5:00 AM

Article image
Parents fight in court over whether children should return to school in England
Family lawyer says divorcing couples can disagree during coronavirus pandemic amid conflicting advice

Owen Bowcott Legal affairs correspondent

02, Jun, 2020 @11:05 AM