Church of Scotland calls for ban on smacking

A prominent figure within the Church of Scotland has reiterated calls for a ban on smacking.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament Revd Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, called on MSPs to introduce an outright ban.

The Christian Institute believes a ban would result in parents being criminalised.

Protections

Speaking at an ‘Equal Protection for Children’ seminar at Holyrood last week, Revd Dr Frazer claimed that smacking is harmful to children’s health.

He said that new legislation is needed to “send a clear message that resorting to violence as a means of disciplining children is not acceptable”. His comments came after a report by the Kirk in May called for a ban.

The law in Scotland currently bars parents from disciplining a child by shaking them, hitting them on the head or using an implement.

Director of The Christian Institute, Colin Hart, stressed that the current law “already rightly protects children from abuse”.

‘Undermining parents’

“A ban on smacking would lead to large numbers of parents being criminalised.

“It would undermine parents, and divert resources away from protecting children who are being abused.”

Asked on the possibility of a change to the law last week, a spokesman for the Scottish Government said it does not “wish to see parents unnecessarily or unreasonably criminalised”.

He added: “we have no plans to bring forward legislation to repeal existing legal defences for parents in relation to physical punishment”.

Results abroad

Criminalising smacking has had devastating results in other countries such as Sweden, which brought in a ban in 1979.

In 1981, 22,000 children were removed from their homes, compared to 163 that year in neighbouring Norway.

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