New Zealand’s smacking ban is proof that the measure should not be introduced in Wales, according to the Welsh Conservatives.
Darren Millar AM pointed to a nationwide poll in New Zealand that showed that 51% of New Zealanders believed that the 2007 anti-smacking law there caused a decline in discipline.
The poll carried out at the beginning of last December also indicated that almost 40% of mothers of young children say they have smacked despite the law change.
70% also said they would not report a parent who they saw smacking their child on the backside or hand.
Darren Millar was speaking ahead of the this week’s debate in the Welsh Parliament on the Children (Abolition of the Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill – which would introduce a smacking ban in Wales.
He said that if passed it would “result in the criminalisation, potentially, of tens of thousands of decent, loving parents across Wales who use the occasional smack to discipline their children”.
In September a majority of AMs voted to back the principle of ending “reasonable punishment” as a defence for assaulting children – with 35 for, and 15 against.
The Tory and Brexit Party voted against the legislation, with Plaid Cymru, Labour and the Liberal Democrats backing it.
“This latest poll from New Zealand is further evidence that smacking bans do not work. Thirteen years after a ban was introduced in New Zealand, this poll indicates that it is having no effect on child abuse rates, and may actually be doing more harm than good,” Darren Millar said.
“As I have previously stated when objecting to the Welsh Labour Government’s plans, parenting is tough enough as it is, so instead of punishing loving mums and dads, we should be supporting them and providing universal access to positive parenting courses which promote alternatives to smacking as a form of discipline.
“The public in Wales don’t want this legislation. Whenever public opinion has been tested, the response has been very, very clear, and that is: the overwhelming majority, between two thirds and three-quarters of people, do not believe that a smacking ban should be introduced.
“We already have comprehensive legislation in place that the police, social services and others use to deal with child abuse and those who break them should feel the full weight of the law.
“Most parents who use the occasional smack do so within the confines of a loving relationship with the child who they want to raise to be a responsible adult and someone who can contribute to society usefully in the future.
“The Welsh Government should abandon these unpopular plans.”
Speaking in September, deputy health minister Julie Morgan argued for the law by saying there was nothing more important than protecting vulnerable children.
“I can never accept that it is ever acceptable for a big person to hit a little person,” the Labour Cardiff North AM said.
“I think this is a landmark bit of legislation and I will be very proud if this Welsh parliament passes it.”