Assembly members in bid to ban smacking in Wales

Parents in Wales could be criminalised for smacking their own children under plans being debated by the Welsh Assembly on Wednesday.

The First Minister of Wales has said that the Assembly has the power to make smacking illegal, even though this has previously been disputed.

Four Assembly Members have tabled a motion calling on the Welsh Government to criminalise parents who smack their child.

Tool

But Darren Millar, a Conservative Assembly Member, insisted that parents should have the right to properly discipline their children.

“Physical chastisement is a tool,” he said. “It’s not the only tool but it can be extremely effective and useful, and can be far less damaging.

“I think the vast majority of parents know where to draw the line. People use it as a reasonable punishment and they ought to be able to continue to do so.”

Dispute

A previous attempt to criminalise parents in Wales for smacking their children ran into a dispute about whether the Assembly had the powers to pass such a law.

But now the First Minister has said that it is possible for the Assembly to change the law and “end the availability of the defence of reasonable punishment for those cases where it still applies to an offence of assaulting a child”.

The controversial motion has been tabled by four members of the Assembly – two from Labour, one from Plaid Cymru and the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

Smacking

Labour’s Christine Chapman, one of those behind the motion, claimed that similar bans had been successful in several other countries.

She said: “What message are you giving out that in order for them to do what you want you have got to use physical force? Really, we are way behind other countries.”

Earlier this year a top European human rights official said that parents should be banned from smacking their children in the home.

Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, said children’s human rights were being breached by the UK’s current laws on smacking.

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