Welsh Assembly passes child smacking ban in historic vote

28 January 2020, 19:31

The Welsh Assembly has passed the smacking ban
The Welsh Assembly has passed the smacking ban. Picture: Senned
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The Welsh Assembly has voted to ban parents smacking their children in a historic vote.

The new law, which comes into effect in 2022, will mean parents accused of smacking their kids can no longer use the defence of reasonable punishment.

At its final stage, the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) Bill passed by 36 to 14 votes, making it only the second UK nation to approve such a law.

Julie Morgan AM, who has campaigned for the law to change for 20 years, said it was a "historic day for Wales" and will ensure "ensure children in Wales aren't physically punished" for misbehaving.

Some have criticised the law for "taking away the rights of parents" to punish their children, but Ms Morgan she said the law "isn't about telling parents how to parent".

Jamie Gillies from Be Reasonable, who have been campaigning against the ban, said it will lead to "very negative intervention in families" and will see parents who "use no chastisement subjected to investigations".

Currently, the Children Act 2004 allows parents to use 'defence of reasonable punishment' to justify smacking their children.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said a reasonable punishment defence can only be used if a child's injuries are "transient and trifling and amounted to no more than temporary reddening of the skin".

In a statement on the North West Wales Conservatives website, Janet Finch-Saunders AM said criminalising parents for smacking is "not necessary".

"The impact on a child of a parent taken away by police is greater than the impact of a slight smack."

Ms Finch-Saunders added: "If convicted, parents and families could end up with permanent criminal records, harm to employment chances and potential separation could be the end result."