Conservative Senedd Member ‘astounded’ at over £1m spent on smacking ban act
A Conservative Senedd Member has said that she is “astounded” after it was revealed that over £1m was spent on a law that will ban smacking children in Wales.
Describing it as a “nanny-state intervention,” Janet Finch-Saunders MS said that she was in “shock” that the act had cost so much to develop.
The Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 will come into force within three months’ time, on 21 March this year.
The Welsh Government said that the purpose of the legislation is to help protect children’s rights. Under the law, parents and other adults acting in a parental capacity will no longer be allowed to physically punish children in Wales.
Earlier this month the Welsh Government announced in a newsletter that they would be releasing a “big burst of advertising” to count down to the law coming into force.
It will include TV advertising, radio advertising, billboards and advertising on buses and cinema adverts.
But Janet Finch-Saunders said that, according to a Freedom of Information reply obtained by her office, the Welsh Government had already spent £1,650,098 on the development and introduction of the Act between May 2016 and the 4th January 2022.
“I am astounded that over one and half million pounds of taxpayers’ money has been ploughed into this nanny-state intervention that unreasonably criminalises good parents and intrudes excessively on family life,” she said.
“While we all continue to strive to create the safest possible environment for our children here in Wales, instead of introducing unnecessary additions to the statute book, this money could have gone towards supporting our already overstretched social services and education avenues.
“Having led the opposition to this Act during the last Senedd, you can be sure that I will continue to scrutinise its impact on society.”
The Welsh Government say that the new law will clarify what has been a ‘grey’ area for some time.
As the law stands in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, it’s illegal for a parent to smack their own child, except where the smacking is “reasonable punishment”.
But without a legal definition of “reasonable punishment” the decision about whether a smack is reasonable or common assault depends on the individual circumstances of each “punishment”.
Under current laws, factors that would be considered include the age of the child and the nature or force of the smack and that “reasonable punishment” would not include anything that left a child with swelling, bruises, cuts or grazes, reddening of the skin, abrasions or a black eye.
Scotland outlawed any type of physical punishment against the child in 2020, declaring: “There is NO legal justification for hitting your child. The defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ that exists in England, Northern Ireland and Wales no longer counts in Scotland.”
Under Scottish law physical punishment was defined as slapping and smacking with a hand or an implement, kicking, shaking or throwing, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion.
From 21 March 2022, the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ will no longer be available in Wales; all types of physical punishment will be illegal.
Information, advice and support is available for anyone who needs it, to help them find positive ways to manage children’s behaviour and to help avoid such a situation ever happening.
- Parenting. Give it time offers positive parenting practical hints, tips and expert advice to encourage good behaviour from children and alternatives to physical punishment. Their parenting support page offers links to further support and helplines.
- Universal parenting support and advice is provided by midwives, health visitors, GPs and Family Information Services.
- Early help programmes such as Flying Start (if you live in a Flying Start area) and Families First.
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