Scottish Parliament votes to ban smacking of children

MSP's said is was an 'historic step'

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Scotland has become the first country in the UK to ban smacking of children after Members of Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of the move.

The Equal Protection from Assault Bill, brought forward by the Green Party’s John Finnie, passed at Holyrood with 84 votes to 29, majority 55.

The new law bans the physical punishment of a child and makes it a criminal offence for parents or carers to smack their children.

Previously, parents could use the “reasonable chastisement” defence for using physical force as discipline - Mr Finnie’s Bill removes this argument from the law.

It aims to give children the same protection from assault as adults, as well as to bring Scotland in line with United Nations recommendations.

On the result, Mr Finnie said the decision by MSPs sent a “strong message that violence is never acceptable”.

“I am absolutely delighted that the Scottish Parliament has taken this historic and courageous step.”

Critics of the smacking ban had said that it could criminalise parents.

Scottish Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell said that while he believes violence against children is wrong, he could not support the Bill because it is “imprecise and suboptimal”.

Scotland is now the 58th country to ban smacking, with other nations including Ireland and Sweden.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "Today, Scotland joins a family of more enlightened nations,” and Scottish Labour MSP Mary Fee hailed the Bill as "an important step forward for children's rights".

Joanna Barrett, of NSPCC Scotland, said: "This historic vote delivers a UK first in fairness and equality for children which the NSPCC has long championed.

"It's a common sense move that closes an archaic loophole and ensures that, finally, children in Scotland will have the same protection from assault as adults."

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Scotland to introduce ban on smacking children

Do people who were smacked as children support a smacking ban?