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Scotland Becomes First Part Of UK To Make Smacking Children Illegal

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Scotland Becomes First Part Of UK To Make Smacking Children Illegal

Scotland has ruled that smacking children is now illegal, making them the first country in the UK to do so.

The Scottish Parliament approved the regulation last year, and it came into force on Saturday.

While the rest of the UK still allows smacking if it is "reasonable punishment" for a child under the Children's Act 2004, Wales is also expected to ban it by 2022.

"Reasonable punishment" at the hands of a parent or guardian is dependant on each individual case, but the smacking cannot cause wounding or actual bodily harm, nor should it cause grievous bodily harm (obviously).

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However, Scotland's children's minister Maree Todd said they would be taking a harder stance.

The ruling said any defence of smacking kids was 'outdated' (Credit: Shutterstock)
The ruling said any defence of smacking kids was 'outdated' (Credit: Shutterstock)

"I'm very pleased that Scotland has become the first part of the UK to legislate to ensure that children, without exception, have the same protection from assault as adults," she said.

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"This outdated defence has no place in a modern Scotland. It can never be reasonable to strike a child."

Discussing the ruling, Joanna Barrett, from NSPCC Scotland, agreed it was a "common-sense move" to get rid of the 'justifiable assault' defence altogether.

"This law sets out in clear terms that physical punishment should no longer be part of childhood in Scotland," she said.

"And it marks a momentous step in making it a country where children's rights are truly recognised, respected and fulfilled."

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There have been campaigns to stop smacking across the UK for years (Credit: PA)
There have been campaigns to stop smacking across the UK for years (Credit: PA)

The smacking ban bill was brought to the table by Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie, who is a former police officer.

It quickly won the support of the SNP, the Lib Dems and the Labour Party in the country, alongside various children's charities.

However, opposition to the ruling - including commentary from campaign group Be Reasonable Scotland - stated "unnecessary" changes could mean that "good" families will face "traumatic" interventions despite posing "no risk to their children".

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Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie submitted the bill (Credit: PA)
Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie submitted the bill (Credit: PA)

Explaining the importance of the law change, Mr Finnie said that smacking teaches children that "might is right", and added that the ban would "send a strong message that violence is never acceptable in any setting".

Smacking was first outlawed in Sweden, when the country outlawed corporal punishment back in 1979.

Scotland is now become the 58th country to follow suit. Neither England nor Northern Ireland have raised any plans to join them.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Topics: Life News, News, Parenting

Joanna Freedman
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