Wales Bans Parents From Smacking Kids

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The “Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment” Act, adopted this week, will go into effect in 2022. That means that the bill will punish parents who say, in court, that they hit their kids in order to discipline them.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: "I'm proud Wales has taken this step and once again put children's rights at the heart of what we do here in Wales. Protecting children and giving them the best start in life should always be our priority. Times have changed and there is no place in a modern society for the physical punishment of children.”

Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services Julie Morgan said: “Physical punishment has no place here in Wales — there is no such thing as a loving smack and no justifiable reason for a big person to hit a little person.

“I’m delighted we have voted to change the law to help protect our children and future generations.”

Wales and Scotland are the first parts of the UK to change the part of legislation about physical punishment of kids. The law change removes the common law defense of reasonable punishment which is currently available to parental figures if accused of assault or battery against a child.

This bill presents the first gap in criminal law between Wales and England. In England, parents are still able to legally physically punish a child as long as it is deemed "reasonable." That’s why Welsh Conservative AM Janet Finch-Saunders said last year the ban could deter parents from England from holidaying in Wales.

She said: “I have concerns about raising awareness. I don’t want people to be thinking, ‘I’m not going to Wales as I’m unclear about the law and I can’t reasonably parent my children.’

Dr Ashley Frawley, a sociologist at Swansea University and spokeswoman for the Be Reasonable Wales campaign, said: "The smacking ban bill is simply bad policy. It will result in highly negative intervention in good families, increased pressure on beleaguered social services departments and will do nothing to help children who are genuinely at risk of abuse.”

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