Wales’ smacking ban will lead to ‘Stasi’ culture say Welsh Conservatives
Wales smacking ban, due to be introduced next month, will lead to a “Stasi culture” according to the Welsh Conservatives.
Welsh Government ministers have said that a change in the law would not result in caring parents becoming criminals.
However, guidance for social services states that parents who physically punish their children could be “charged with assault” and have a criminal record.
The Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 will come into force 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.
But Welsh Conservatives Senedd Member Gareth Davies said that the Welsh Government “didn’t seem to be able to let go of the authoritarianism developed during the pandemic”.
“A campaign that urges people to report those who use more traditional parenting methods than nosey ones in the Labour Government is introducing a Stasi culture to Wales.
“I urge the Labour Government to urgently rethink the campaign and inform parents of the new law rather than urge people to report their fellow citizens who are parenting their children as they see fit.”
Simon Calvert of the Be Reasonable campaign, which opposes the change in the law, said: “This recent guidance gives the lie to the frequent claims made by ministers, officials and activists that repealing the reasonable chastisement defence would not criminalise ordinary, loving parents.”
He added that the move had “little to do with tackling genuine abuse, which is already illegal” and said that “many people will think they have been misled over the impact of this ban on ordinary parents”.
A Welsh Government spokesperson responded: “We have always been clear that this legislation is about protecting children and their rights. It gives children the same protection from assault as adults.
“It will make the law clearer – easier for children, parents, professionals and the public to understand. From 21 March, all types of physical punishment will be illegal in Wales.”
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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