Parental Smacking Could Soon Be Banned In This Part Of Britain

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Parents in Wales could soon be banned from smacking their children, as Welsh politicians are to be given new powers allowing them to change parental law.

Welsh leaders will be able to introduce a law that could remove longstanding legal defences from parents who use corporal punishment, such as smacking, to discipline children.

Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones said last summer that he wanted to outlaw smacking, and new powers being transferred to the Welsh Assembly as part of a devolution bill will make it possible for him to do so.

If a ban is implemented, which could happen later this year, it will be the first time smacking has ever been made illegal in Britain, The Independent reported.

The law would also affect tourists and visitors from elsewhere in Britain who work and take holidays in Wales, and could also pave the way for smacking to be banned in England and Scotland.

Parental smacking has been controversial for decades and has long been condemned by lobby groups, UN officials, and the Children’s Commissioners for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

However, Britain is one of just four countries in Europe where smacking is still a legal way for parents to discipline their children. Tony Blair changed the law in 2004, making it possible for parents to be taken to court if their smacking inflicts physical or mental injury on a child, but no one has been prosecuted under the law, The Independent reported.

This month, France became the 52nd country in the world to ban parental smacking, despite most French people saying they approved of occasional corporal punishment to discipline children.

If the Wales smacking ban is implemented, it would be based on a consultation with parents and stakeholders and wouldn't criminalise parents, according to Welsh Assembly children’s spokesman Carl Sergeant.

However, in practice, if the right of "reasonable chastisement" for parents is removed, someone who smacked their child could be charged with common assault and receive a six-month jail sentence, reported The Independent.

Opponents of a smacking ban said it would jeopardise parents who only want the best for their children and could lead to contentious, expensive and time-wasting prosecutions, according to Mail Online.

"The Westminster government has been clear that it is opposed to criminalising parents who use a mild smack to discipline their children," Norman Wells of the Family Education Trust told the Mail Online.

He said it "seems anomalous for ministers to go out of their way to give the Welsh Assembly the power to do that very thing".

"It is parents, and not national governments, who bear the responsibility for caring for their children, nurturing them, and correcting them where necessary," Wells added.

"Generations of parents have proved the benefit of the occasional moderate smack to correct their children’s behaviour, and research continues to show its positive effects when used in the context of a loving home where children are respected and cherished."

However, a spokesman for the Wales Office highlighted that "It is up to the Welsh Assembly whether it chooses to change the law".
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