Plans to ban smacking in Wales dropped

Plans to ban smacking, which also could have criminalised parents for washing a child’s face against their wishes, have been dropped.

Welsh Assembly Members on the Communities, Equality and Local Government Committee were debating changes to a Bill on domestic violence.

All amendments to remove the current defence of reasonable punishment were voted down.

Criminalising parents

During the debate Leighton Andrews, Minister for Public Services, warned that the amendments could have the “unintended” consequence of “criminalising normal parenting practices”, such as washing a child’s face against their wishes.

And he said a parent who “forcibly lifts a misbehaving child would be guilty of battery”.

Andrews commented that this Bill was the “wrong vehicle” through which to ban smacking.

Illegal

In November, the Welsh Assembly voted in favour of setting up a cross-party committee to look into making smacking illegal.

But Andrews had already said that the Welsh Government will not seek to introduce such a law before the next Assembly elections in 2016.

In February, Assembly Members rejected a bid to ban smacking by 39 votes to 14.

Huge public cost

Last year, columnist and mother Laura Kemp warned that smacking should not be banned in Wales because the vast majority of parents would be turned into criminals.

Writing for Wales Online, Kemp said smacking a child “is very different to a child being beaten, which the law already quite rightly classifies as abuse and punishes upon conviction”.

Kemp commented that changing the law would not be worth “the huge public cost”, or the “inevitable investigations into harassed mums who are caught slapping their children’s hands when they get too close to the oven”.

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