England’s Education Secretary rejects call to follow Wales with child smacking ban
England’s Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has rejected a call from the children’s commissioner to follow Wales with a ban on smacking children over the border.
Dame Rachel de Souza signalled her support for changing the law to give children the same protection from assault as adults.
Such a change would bring England into line with the legal position in Scotland and Wales.
But Mr Zahawi said he did not believe the state should be “nannying” parents about the way they bring up their children.
“My very strong view is that actually, we have got to trust parents on this and parents being able to discipline their children is something that they should be entitled to do,” he told Times radio.
“We have got to just make sure we don’t end up in a world where the state is nannying people about how they bring up their children.”
Earlier Dame Rachel said it was important that children’s rights are protected.
“I absolutely abhor, and I’m against, violence of any kind against children,” she told Times Radio.
“Because children are more vulnerable than adults, I think we do need to ensure that their rights are supported.”
Wales last month made any type of corporal punishment, including smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking, illegal in the country.
The “smacking ban”, as it is known, was brought in under the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 and marks the end of the common law defence of “reasonable punishment”.
Parents or anyone who is responsible for a child while the parents are absent can now face criminal or civil charges if they are found to have physically disciplined a young person in any way.
Critics of the law change have said it will criminalise parents, but the Welsh Government insisted the move was about protecting children’s rights.
Scotland introduced a ban in November 2020.
Previously, and as is still the case in England and Northern Ireland, smacking a child was unlawful, but such an assault was allowed as long as it constituted “reasonable punishment”.
Whether the defence was accepted depended on the circumstances of each case, taking into consideration factors such as the age of the child and the nature of the contact, including whether it left a red mark or was carried out with a fist or implement such as a cane or belt.
Dame Rachel urged ministers to look at how the legislation moved through the Welsh assembly and said she would support a decision to follow suit. She said Scotland and Wales had banned the physical punishment of children, “So we’ve learnt a lot about what that would mean, as it goes into legislation.
“I think we’ve got a great opportunity to look, watch it, as it’s embedded (in Wales), and I would be supportive — certainly, from what I’ve seen so far — I would be supportive if our government decided to do the same.”
Although Dame Rachel acknowledged that “protections” for children are already “enshrined in law” in England, she expressed admiration for the actions of the Scottish and Welsh governments, adding: “It’s certainly something that I think we should consider.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer previously said the move should be mirrored in England and Northern Ireland, calling it “the right thing” to do.
A survey commissioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children found more than two-thirds of adults in England believe it is wrong for parents or carers to physically punish their child, with 58% thinking it was already illegal.
More than 60 nations worldwide have legislated against the physical punishment of children.
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Should read “… Welsh Assembly (sic) ….”
Actually Welsh Government. It has not ben the Welsh Assembly for years
Firstly get your facts right. The “Assembly” was finally abolished after it was consigned to the waste bin of history when it returned to its default state of Senedd Cymru (Welsh Parliament) on the 6th May 2020 after an absence of 600 years when Wales, unike Ukraine, was Annexed by agressor England.
It seems that Tories like to hit their kids
other people’s kids for preference
You may have a point. Everything about the Tories seems to represent a toxic macho masculinity.
Now on his fourth ministerial job in less than four years, Zahawi is an emergency hatchet man so he probably won’t be taking care of compassion and consistency for children very long, thank goodness.
This is the parasite that charged the UK tax payer to heat his stables,
Teachers should have very strong authority, up to police level, in dealing with young people in their care. This could include warrant to force parents to look after their children properly. Everything is too lax these days, with many children not knowing which “partner” or ex partner they will go home to after school. Teacher’s salaries should also be raised.
(I’m not a teacher btw). Teacher and child are both very important for our future.
This regressive attitude doesn’t surprise me one iota. How can you expect a corrupt morally void Conservative party lacking empathy to protect the wellbeing of children in England when their policies are a contributing factor towards any mental & physical abuse experienced.
They will, of course eventually realize which way the wind is blowing on this and catch up with rest of the civilized world (God knows it’s taken us long enough)
But … they could not possibly stand to be seen to taking a lead from the other three Nations of the so-called union. Stubborn Tory pride and their obsession with small government and personal freedom trumps the welfare of children every time.
Regardless as to whether it is the right thing to ban smacking or not I believe the real reason England will not follow Wales and Scotland is because it likes to be in charge and doesn’t want to look like it’s following others. Wales and Scotland have introduced a number of policies, such as free prescriptions, because they are more progressive countries, looking to help and protect their citizens. Unlike the Tory government in Westminster which puts money and business above all else.