Jersey law would criminalise parents who smack

Parents who discipline their children using smacking would be criminalised under new plans from the Government of Jersey.

Some politicians have challenged the idea, with one saying it is “not the role of Government to be a parent”.

And campaign group Be Reasonable said the move was “excessive”.


The Draft Children and Education (Amendment) (Jersey) Law, to remove a defence of ‘reasonable corporal punishment’, will be debated in December.

Earlier this year during a debate on the issue, Senator Sarah Ferguson, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “It is not the business of the States to dictate every aspect of life.”

…it is not the role of Government to be a parent

Senator Sarah Ferguson

She said people should be protected from mistreatment, and there is a “great difference” between parental discipline and abuse.

“I think this is just the Government deciding to be a parent and, I am sorry, it is not the role of Government to be a parent”.

Loving families

Deputy Rowland Huelin also spoke out.

“I fear that the problem with this is it will affect the majority of regular, decent, hard-working and loving families”.

Speaking about parenting, he added that politicians should “not add to the risks and woes of the most beautiful responsibility that can be bestowed”.

Prosecution risk

Be Reasonable, which is supported by The Christian Institute, described the plan as “thoughtless and excessive”.

“It risks good parents being pursued and prosecuted for smacking. This won’t help them, it won’t help the authorities, and it won’t help children.”

The draft law will be debated on 10 December and could be passed by the States Assembly by the end of 2019.


In Scotland, MSPs backed legislation to criminalise parents for smacking earlier this month.

Oliver Mundell MSP and Liz Smith MSP were among those to speak out against the idea, and the Be Reasonable group drew attention to the public opposition.

But politicians supported it by 84 votes to 29, and the Bill is scheduled to come into force in the coming months.

Wales is also currently considering a ban on parental smacking.

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