It also applies to guests – as well as their children. Wales has adopted the new law, which follows Scotland in declaring that no corporal punishment of a child is ever permitted.
In schools, children’s homes, local government foster care homes, and childcare settings, physical punishment was previously illegal.
Even beating a child, whether by a parent or caretaker, was deemed routine assault. However, the law allowed them to argue that the sentence was acceptable.
Critics, however, had another view. “The smacking ban is an unnecessary, unworkable and undesired law that was pushed through the Senedd by those who think they know better than parents,” said Gareth Davies, the Welsh Conservatives’ spokesman for social services.
The Children (Abolition of Defense of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act was passed in 2020, and it was known as the Children (Abolition of Defense of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act.
The evidence from the National Health Service, the courts, the police, and prosecutors all agreed that removing the “reasonable chastisement defense” would result in the prosecution of loving parents, according to a representative for the pro-parent organization Be Reasonable.
Nonetheless, legislators did it.
Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie, a former police officer, introduced the smacking ban bill in the Scottish Parliament, garnering support from the SNP, Labor, and Lib Dems, as well as his own party and a number of children’s organizations.
Mr. Finnie said smacking teaches children that “might is right”, and that the ban would “send a strong message that violence is never acceptable in any setting”.
Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “This outdated defense has no place in modern Scotland. It can never be reasonable to strike a child.“
Opponents claimed the reforms were “unnecessary,” claiming that existing rules already protected children from adult abuse.
They said that the adjustments would do nothing to help vulnerable children who had been subjected to severe physical abuse, but that they could result in traumatic interventions in “good” homes who utilize discipline like a smack on the bottom.
“Whether a ‘smack’ is a suitable punishment will be determined by the facts of each instance, taking into account considerations such as the child’s age and the type of the smack.”
“There are strict guidelines covering the use of reasonable punishment and it will not be possible to rely on the defense if you use severe physical punishment on your child which amounts to wounding, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm or child cruelty.“
The defense of “reasonable chastisement” is still available in Northern Ireland, just as it is in England.