Calls to ban smacking to protect children’s mental health


School psychologists are calling for an outright ban on smacking children as they say it harms their mental health.

Plans are being discussed in the Scottish Parliament after The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) filed a motion planning to ban corporal punishment “in all settings”.  

The Welsh Government are also moving towards the ban.

A consultation on banning smacking outright was concluded in Wales earlier this year which found 81% of parents think it is never acceptable to smack a child.

Huw Irranca-Davies, the Welsh Government’s children and social care minister, said: “As a government, we want to ensure every parent recognises that it’s never acceptable to smack a child”.

“This is why we intend to bring forward legislation to make it clear that physically punishing a child is no longer acceptable in Wales.”

However, Conservative MP Bill Grant says he does not support these plans and argues parents should choose how to punish their children. He said:

“I don’t think its up to the Government to tell you how to be a parent. Smacking can be used to protect a child, to discipline them but I do think it should be used as a last resort”.

He also argues that smacking is not the reason for mental health problems between youngsters. He said:

“Is smacking really the problem or is it things like social media which cause mental health issues? I don’t think a ban on smacking will save our society today”.

Hitting children is currently banned in schools in Scotland. However parents or carers can lightly smack children as a form of punishment if necessary without being charged with assault.

School psychologists are calling on the UK Government to “acknowledge that physical punishment can have negative long-term effects on a child’s development” and is as a useless method of discipline.

They are also looking to remove the “reasonable punishment” defence from the Children Act 2004. This prevents parents from being criminalised for hitting their children

This comes following concerns that it goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The move comes after the Scottish Government and MSPs from across all political parties backed the introduction of a new Bill at Holyrood to completely outlaw smacking.

If the legislation is passed, it would remove the defence of “justifiable assault” in Scots law. This allows parents to use physical punishment to admonish a child.




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