Parents who smack their children in Wales could be prosecuted if reasonable chastisement is made illegal, the Welsh Children’s Minister has admitted.
Previously the Welsh Government claimed the move “isn’t about legislation to criminalise parents”.
On Tuesday a twelve-week consultation was launched, prompting a cautious welcome from campaigners opposed to a ban. They said they backed “any genuine consultation”.
Questioned on BBC Breakfast about parents being prosecuted for smacking their children, Minister for Children and Social Care, Huw Irranca-Davies said “you can’t rule it out”.
He added that the Government wanted to tell parents about a “different way to bring up children in a modern Wales”.
But one of his predecessors, Leighton Andrews, has been more candid, stating “a parent who forcibly lifts a misbehaving child would be guilty of battery”.
Be Reasonable Wales, which is supported by The Christian Institute, highlighted clear popular opposition to the plans and criticised “emotionally charged language” used by proponents.
Lowri Turner said: “Forcing through this punitive legislation regardless of the opposition from Welsh families will merely criminalise ordinary parents.”
She added that some who want a change in the law “try to make out that a gentle smack on the back of the legs from a loving mum is the same as beating up your kids – it is not”.
Mrs Turner said: “There is clear opposition to these proposals in Wales.
“Our polling showed 85 per cent of Welsh adults were smacked as children, 76 per cent said it should not be criminal, and nearly 70 per cent agree it’s sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child.
“We urge families to take part in the consultation and we hope the Welsh Government will listen to the results and to the data which shows the public does not back this change.”
In Scotland, the Government recently revealed it would back a Bill to ban parental smacking.
The move was an abrupt U-turn, coming just months after saying it did not support a law “which could potentially criminalise parents for lightly smacking their children.”
Currently, parents across the UK are legally allowed to smack their children as a means of parental discipline.