Bills to criminalise parents who smack their children are going through both the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly. Those who support this change misrepresent a controlled smack by a loving parents as equivalent to child abuse.
But the legal defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ only protects parents who use a mild smack. Any unreasonable chastisement is already unlawful. Removing this defence would be an unprecedented inference in family life by the state.
The police would be under a duty to investigate any allegations of physical chastisement. This process alone would be deeply distressing for families and could see children removed from homes and parents’ jobs affected.
Criminalising smacking will also distract social services and police with trivial cases, meaning vital services can’t help those who really need it.
Not every parent will choose to smack, and different children benefit from different forms of discipline. But parents should have the freedom to decide.
The Christian Institute is backing ‘Be Reasonable‘, a grassroots campaign of parents and supportive groups opposed to the Welsh Government’s plans.