Scotland set to become first country in UK to ban smacking

By Heather Miller and Caitlin Gallagher

Scotland is set to become the first country in the UK to make it illegal for parents to punish their children with physical force.

Parents within Scotland are currently allowed to use “rational” physical force to discipline their children. The Scottish Parliament is holding a vote this afternoon regarding the ban on all physical punishment which is predicted to have large support in giving children the same level of protection from assault as adults.

If the bill is passed, Scotland will become the 58th country to introduce the legislation to parliament.

Green Party MSP, John Finnie, proposal leader of the Equal Protection Bill had this to say ahead of the debate this afternoon:

“Today the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to pass vital legislation to protect children.

“It’s staggering that the only people not afforded legal protection from assault are our smallest and most vulnerable citizens and now is the time to change that.

“This Bill will take Scotland into line with international best practice, other countries have recognised that physical punishment has no place in the 21st century and it’s time we did too.

“This evening we take an important step towards putting an end to it for good.”

Conservative MSP Miles Briggs disapproves of the ‘Smacking Bill’, stating:

“The Scottish Conservatives believe that we should not replace good law with bad law. The current law already protects children from violence and it works well.

“It allows “reasonable chastisement” from parents, while preventing assault and disproportionate punishment of children.

“ The reality is that a majority of Scottish people are against this Bill as it would criminalise loving parents.”

Currently in England and Wales parents can face charges if children are left with marks or injury. However, Wales are close to following Irelands legislation that was passed in 2015.

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