Loving parents who gently smack their own children will be branded child abusers under proposals in Wales, Freedom of Information (FoI) requests have revealed.
Cwm Taf University Health Board (UHB) admitted that doctors and nurses who smack their own children will be reported to the police and social workers. This means they could face criminal investigation and possible suspension.
A separate statement from Public Health Wales obtained by the Be Reasonable campaign linked smacking to torture and other “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
Be Reasonable spokeswoman Dr Ashley Frawley said the information contradicts the claim that ordinary parents will not be criminalised if smacking is banned.
The requests also revealed that where NHS staff suspect a patient smacks their child, they will have a duty to report that to the police or social services.
Cwm Taf UHB said: “It is already a statutory duty to report child protection concerns to the Local Authority and if the defence of reasonable chastisement is removed, smacking will become one of those concerns.”
Dr Frawley said this would have “dire consequences for families”.
Those in Wales saying parents will be criminalised have been dismissed as scaremongers, but Dr Frawley highlighted new research which concluded that a smacking ban in New Zealand has been directly responsible for criminalising ordinary parents.
She said parents would be “alarmed” to learn that other interactions, “such as a parent who forcibly lifts a misbehaving child from the floor of a shop and places them in a trolley seat”, will also be criminalised if the law changes.
She concluded by saying there is a “growing volume of evidence that confirms the only sensible law is the one we have”, and called on the Welsh Government to ditch the plan to ban smacking “once and for all”.
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.”
The UK is one of nearly 150 countries, including the US, Australia, Canada and France, where parents are still able to reasonably chastise their children without breaking the law.