Phone social services if you see a child being smacked after law change, Welsh Government say
The Welsh Government have said that people should phone social services if they see a child being smacked after a new law outlawing physical punishment is introduced.
They added that people can also phone the police in an emergency or if a child is in danger.
From 21 March next year physically punishing children up to 18 years old will be illegal in Wales.
Types of physical punishment can include smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking, the Welsh Government said in a new guidance document.
They have also launched a new ad campaign warning people that it will be illegal to smack children in Wales within months.
“If you are concerned that a child is being physically punished you can contact your local social services department,” the document says.
“You can also call the police in an emergency or if a child is in danger.”
The Be Reasonable campaign which is campaigning against the smacking ban said that the Welsh Government were finally “coming clean” that the ban would criminalise parents.
Only now, when we are just months away from implementing the ban, do they finally drop any pretence that this ban will not criminalise loving parents,” Simon Calvert, a spokesman for the Be Reasonable, said.
“They are telling the public to ring the police or social services if they see, or suspect, a parent has tapped their child on the bottom for misbehaving.”
The Welsh Government however said changing the law would not criminalise anyone.
“It is an individual’s actions in relation to the law that may lead them to receiving a criminal record,” they said.
“If an adult physically punishes a child in their care after 21 March 2022 they could be reported to the police.
“The action the police take will depend on the individual circumstances of the case.”
Meanwhile, campaigners in England have called for the UK Government to follows Wales’ example after a study showed that smacking children does not improve their behaviour.
Researchers from University College London (UCL) analysed 20 years of research on physical punishment by looking at 69 global studies.
They followed children over time and assessed data on smacking, finding that approximately 250 million children around the world are subject to physical punishment.
The study came to the conclusion that smacking does not improve behaviour and can in fact make things worse.
Lead author Dr Anja Heilmann, from UCL’s Department of Epidemiology, said: “Physical punishment is ineffective and harmful, and has no benefits for children and their families. This could not be clearer from the evidence we present.
“We see a definitive link between physical punishment and behavioural problems such as aggression and antisocial behaviour.
“Even more worrying are findings that children who are the recipients of physical punishment are at increased risk of being subjected to more severe levels of violence.”
The study authors have now called for the practice to be made illegal in England, Northern Ireland and all the remaining nations.