Jersey votes to criminalise parents who give their children a mild smack

The Jersey Assembly has voted to ban parental smacking.

The Draft Children and Education (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 201 was passed by 39 votes to 4 in a debate lasting just 20 minutes.

The Bill, introduced by the Minister for Children and Housing, Senator Sam Mézec, removed the defence of ‘reasonable corporal punishment’.

Worse for children

Several members opposed the motion during a debate on the general principles of the Bill.

Senator Sarah Ferguson said that she had received many letters from constituents concerned about the ramifications of changing the law.

She commented that taking a parent to court would have a much worse impact on a child than a mild smack.


Be Reasonable spokeswoman Dr Ashley Frawley said the move would “undermine parental confidence”.

Dr Frawley, a Senior Lecturer at Swansea University, said that good parents using an infrequent, light smack as a disciplinary measure should not be criminalised.

She highlighted that the law already protects children from abuse, and that rather than trying convince people that the law should change, politicians are using legislation as a blunt instrument to impose their own views on others.

Criminalise parents

In Scotland, MSPs voted in October to criminalise parents for smacking by 84 votes to 29. The Bill is scheduled to come into force in the coming months.

Wales is also currently considering a ban on parental smacking. Stage Three proceedings for Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill will take place Tuesday 21 January.