The Scottish government have confirmed that they support a ban on smacking children, making Scotland the first part of the UK to introduce laws to stop parents from using physical punishment to discipline their kids.
Justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, John Finnie, has proposed that the next step following the Scottish government’s support of the ban will be to remove the defence of ‘justifiable assault’ for smacking under Scottish law, as this will give children the same legal protection as adults when it comes to physical assault.
Following the momentous move by the Scottish government to ban smacking, children’s commissioners in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are now also calling for the law to be changed for the whole of the UK.
Leading children’s charities are also calling for a nationwide ban on smacking children.
The current law in England states that children are exempt from the law on common assault if it is ‘justifiable’ by a parent as a punishment. However, critics are labeling this law ‘outdated’ and many believe there are ‘better and more effective ways of disciplining children and encouraging positive behaviour’, as stated by Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner for England.
While Scotland moving to ban smacking is a first for the UK, as a country Great Britain is actually only one of four countries in the EU that have not reformed laws relating to smacking and the physical punishment of children.
The NSPCC, who have been campaigning for a change in the law and an outright ban of physical punishment for children are urging the government to follow Scotland’s lead in reforming the law.
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A spokesperson for the charity said: ‘Closing this loophole would bring Scotland in line with dozens of other countries and give children there equal protection under the law. We urge governments across the UK to do likewise, including in Westminster.’
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