SMACKING kids has today become a criminal offence in Scotland after MSPs voted to stop parents and carers being allowed to the “justifiable assault” defence.
The ruling has made Scotland the first country in the UK to ban the use of physical discipline on children under the age of 16.
Smacking children was legal in the UK – unless unreasonable force is used[/caption]
Parents and carers across the UK are currently allowed to use “reasonable” physical force to discipline children.
But the Scottish Government has backed moves to give children the same protection from assault as adults.
MSP John Finnie, who proposed the legal change, said: “It is staggering that our smallest and most vulnerable citizens are the only people who do not currently have this protection, and now is the time to rectify that.
UK smacking laws
In UK law all physical attacks on adults can be treated as assault but children do not have the same protection.
A person accused of assaulting a child can claim they used physical force as a form of discipline
All physical punishment in schools and other education settings is already completely banned
The “reasonable chastisement” defence can be used on under 16s
The courts will consider:
- The nature of the punishment
- Its duration and frequency
- The age of the child
- The physical and mental impact
“Physical punishment has no place in 21st century Scotland.”
He added: “It is time for parliament to put an end to it tonight.”
His Bill passed the first stage having been approved by 80 votes to 29.
But some fear the change could criminalise thousands of parents just for disciplining their children.
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Jamie Gillies, from the campaign group Be Reasonable, said: “Seeking to further the protection of children is highly commendable, but a smacking ban is not the way to do it.
“The risks this proposal carries to family life, social work and the police mean it could end up doing far more harm than good.
“The Government should invest in current services, which are already hard-pressed, and bolster their ability to identify and tackle abuse.”
The vote is taking place later today[/caption]
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