Parents in Wales face not being consulted about new measures affecting the rights of their children, if a Welsh Assembly proposal becomes law.
The controversial plans focus on implementing policies recommended by the United Nations, which has previously issued a strong call on the UK Government to ban smacking.
The proposal, which is part of an increasing drive for ‘children’s rights’, is likely to raise concerns that ministers will undermine the authority of parents to bring up and discipline their children.
The Proposed Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure places ministers in the Welsh Cabinet under a duty to consider ‘children’s rights’ when making strategic decisions.
It states that they must consult children or young persons, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales and “such other persons or bodies as the Welsh Ministers consider appropriate” on how to do this.
But parents are not specifically mentioned.
The proposed Measure, which was open for consultation until 27 August 2010, may have implications for the rest of the UK.
‘Children’s rights’ campaigners aim to bring about a total ban on parental smacking, but critics doubt this is the right approach.
Norman Wells, Director of the Family Education Trust, said: “It is parents, and not national governments, who bear the responsibility of caring for children, nurturing them, and correcting them where necessary.”
He added: “Generations of parents have proved the benefit of moderate smacking to correct their children’s behaviour, and research continues to show its positive effects when used in the context of a loving home where children are respected and cherished.
“It has become a contentious issue only because of a vocal minority who are determined to undermine the authority of parents.”
Earlier this year a top European official said smacking should be banned to increase respect for ‘children’s rights’.
The Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, called repeatedly for the UK to ban smacking.
But her comments were heavily criticised for intruding into family life.
The current law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland allows parents to use ‘reasonable chastisement’ as long as it does not leave more than a transitory mark on the child.
Sweden became the first country to ban corporal punishment when it outlawed the practice 30 years ago.
The ban was an attempt to reduce child abuse, but the success of the scheme has been cast into doubt.
A 2004 report by Dr Robert E Larzelere warned that since the implementation of the ban there had been “a sharp increase in child abuse and child-on-child violence.”