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Scotland To Be First UK Country To Make Smacking Kids A Criminal Offence

Lauren Bell

| Last updated 

Scotland To Be First UK Country To Make Smacking Kids A Criminal Offence

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

The Scottish government will today vote at Holyrood on whether it backs the ban on smacking kids - and it sounds like it's set to be a landslide in favour of criminalisation.

The first stage towards the bill becoming a law was approved by a huge 80 votes to 29 back in May.

Currently, parents are allowed by law to use "reasonable" physical force to discipline a child, but the move to change the law will protect children from assault as it does adults and stop parents and carers being able to use a 'justifiable assault' defence.

The new law was proposed originally by Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

He was backed by Greens, SNP, Labour and Lib Dem parties, although not the Conservatives.

He said: "It is staggering that our smallest and most vulnerable citizens are the only people who do not currently have this protection, and now is the time to rectify that.

"Physical punishment has no place in the 21st century."

Ahead of the vote, he added: "The international evidence tells us that it can have serious adverse impacts on children, and that it is not effective."

Credit: Pexels
Credit: Pexels

"It is time for parliament to put an end to it tonight."

If the law passes, Scotland will be the first country in the UK to ban physical punishment of children.

The NSPCC is of course backing the motion.

In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Peter Wanless, the chief executive of the NSPCC said that smacking is the "outdated" defence of "justifiable assault".

But not everyone is on side.

Opponents from campaign group Be Reasonable argue there is no evidence "light, infrequent physical discipline" is harmful to kids.

The letter continued: "The discourse around smacking is dishonest. It conflates 'hitting' and violence with smacking.

"But violence against children is already outlawed under current legislation."

"The reasonable chastisement defence merely allows a caring parent to use a light tap on the hand or bottom without being charged with an assault.

"A careful examination of the evidence does not find that light, infrequent physical discipline is harmful to children.

"Major studies on smacking are often misinterpreted or misused by academics seeking to further their own political agenda."

Credit: Unsplash
Credit: Unsplash

The group was also concerned about the extra strain it would place on social services.

It added: "A smacking ban would also make the work of the police and social services more difficult by bringing hundreds of good parents under the remit of child protection agencies, impeding efforts to identify actual abuse."

While some think it's unnecessary, a report published by children's charities in Scotland in 2015 suggested that physical punishment on children is more rife here in the UK than in other similar countries.

It estimated 70%-80% of parents in the UK have used this sort of punishment, most commonly on children aged three to seven.


Whatever people think, it is now in the hands of MSPs to decide.

The result will be announced later today.

Topics: Life News, News, Politics

Lauren Bell
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