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Scotland to lead way in UK with ban on smacking children

At present, parents can claim a defence of 'justifiable assault' when hitting their offspring.

Smacking: Parents to be banned from hitting children (file pic).
Smacking: Parents to be banned from hitting children (file pic). PA / Cropped

Smacking children is set to be banned in Scotland, it has been announced.

It will make the country the first part of the UK to outlaw physical punishment for children.

At the moment, parents can claim a defence of "justifiable assault" after hitting their child.

The Scottish Government now says it intends back a proposal from Green MSP John Finnie to remove that protection.

A spokeswoman said: "Mr Finnie's proposals are not a Scottish Government bill, however we will ensure the proposals become law.

"We believe physical punishment can have negative effects on children which can last long after the physical pain has died away.

"We support positive parenting through, for example, funding for family support services."

https://stv.tv/news/scotland/1393639-children-s-commissioner-believes-smacking-violates-rights/ | default

It follows First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's confirmation in her programme for government last month that ministers would not oppose Mr Finnie's bill.

She highlighted that around 50 countries - including France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Ireland - had already made the change.

Scottish Labour announced earlier this week it would also support the bill, calling it "the right thing to do".

Mr Finnie said: "It is especially welcome that the Scottish Government has reiterated its support for my bill because there is clear evidence that the use of physical punishment is detrimental to children's long-term health and wellbeing.

"Giving children equal protection against assault will send a clear message to all of us about how we treat each other and underpin Scotland's efforts to reduce violence."

'[Smacking] goes against the basic values that we hold in Scotland in terms of human dignity and respect for children.'
Cchildren and young people's commissioner Bruce Adamson

Bruce Adamson, Scotland's children and young people's commissioner, said allowing parents and carers to hit children is "untenable untenable in international human rights law".

"[Smacking] goes against the basic values that we hold in Scotland in terms of human dignity and respect for children," he said.

Children's charity NSPCC Scotland welcomed the Scottish Government's announcement, calling it a "welcome step on the road towards fairness and equality for children".

The Be Reasonable campaign, however, has condemned the move, calling it a "gross intrusion on family life by politicians who are totally out of touch with real people".

Spokeswoman Lowri Turner campaign said: "The people calling for this change are using hysterical and manipulative language. They're trying to make out that a gentle smack from a loving mum is the same as beating up your kids.

"If the government can't tell the difference then they shouldn't be passing laws about it.

"It must resist the temptation to constantly interfere in how parents choose to raise their children. As the Scottish Government well knows, the law already protects children from abuse."

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