A senior Assembly Member has rejected plans by the Welsh Government to criminalise parents who smack their children, saying a smacking ban is “not the right way forward”.
The Shadow Minister for Education Darren Millar was responding to a report by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales recommending the Government bans smacking, despite evidence showing it does not harm children.
He said that banning mild discipline is “the wrong course of action” when there are actual harms children are facing.
Mr Millar said: “The report states that children in Wales do not have equal protection from assault in law compared to adults, but, of course, that is misleading and inaccurate.
“The law clearly protects young children and all children, indeed, from violence, but it also recognises that light physical discipline, such as a smack on the hand or the backside, should not be a criminal offence”.
He added that removing the defence of reasonable chastisement, “will destroy this distinction and leave many loving parents across Wales who smack their children at risk of arrest”.
Wasting police time
Mr Millar continued by saying instead of “wasting the time of the police and social services by sending them after ordinary, hard-working mums and dads”, the authorities should be empowered to track down real child abusers.
The Conservative AM highlighted that 76 per cent of the Welsh public do not think smacking should be a criminal offence, according to a poll from 2017.
He said it was vital “that we pursue measures that will genuinely help children, but this particular proposal, in terms of a smacking ban, is not the right way forward”.
Lowri Turner, a spokesmum for the Be Reasonable campaign, which is spearheading opposition to the ban, welcomed Mr Millar’s contribution.
She said: “Mr Millar recognises that changing the law will not prevent abuse or neglect, but will lead to ordinary loving parents being turned into criminals.”
She added that politicians “should be trying to find ways to help parents, rather than supporting proposals that will criminalise them”, adding that the safest law “is the one we have”.