Smacking: Welsh Govt rejects call for swift ban

Fresh pressure to ban parents from smacking their children has been rejected for now by the Welsh Government.

A new campaign group of Welsh academics says the prohibition should be enforced quickly, and that only a small change is needed.

However the Government says “extensive consultation” would be required before any such move is made.

Examine

Critics of a ban on smacking say such a move would criminalise loving parents simply seeking to discipline their children.

In February an amendment to ban smacking was rejected by Welsh Assembly Members, as they debated the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill.

At the time Deputy Minister Gwenda Thomas signalled there would be opportunities to “examine this issue” before the 2016 election.

Quickly

Now the Academics for Equal Protection group says, “we feel it is important to get on and to do it quickly”.

It claims that physical punishment of children is “not acceptable” and a change would “merely” remove ‘reasonable punishment’ as a defence.

However, the Welsh Government said: “Any such change to the law would require extensive consultation and an education programme before legislation could be brought forward.

Consult

“We voted against an amendment to the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill on the physical punishment of children because a change of this nature, without appropriate public consultation, would not be the right thing to do.

“We remain committed to continue promoting positive parenting and disciplinary alternatives to physical punishment.”

In February AMs from the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem parties voted against the ban.

Support

During the five-hour debate on the Bill Tory AM Darren Millar said there was “an obvious difference between discipline and abuse”.

South Wales West AM Byron Davies commented that the move was “ideologically driven”.

North Wales AM Antoinette Sandbach also emphasised that children were sufficiently protected by existing law.

In 2012 a poll of 2,000 British adults showed that nearly two thirds of them supported a parent’s right to smack.

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