‘Ordinary Scots don’t want a smacking ban’

A proposal to criminalise parents who smack their children is causing growing concern in Scotland.

The Scotsman reports that several groups and individuals are seeking to campaign against a Bill outlawing smacking.

Last week, the Scottish Government revealed backing for Green MSP John Finnie’s Private Member’s Bill.

‘Loving parents’

The Scotsman spoke to the Be Reasonable campaign, which is opposing similar calls to criminalise parents in Wales.

Spokesman Alistair Thompson said: “There seems to be a reasonable number of people and organisations in Scotland who are concerned about the impact of this type of legislation and have been in touch.”

Commenting on opposition within Holyrood, he added: “I would think there would be MSPs from across the political spectrum who will have reservations about this type of legislation which could potentially criminalise ordinary loving parents just trying to do their best to raise their kids.”

It is currently illegal to discipline by shaking, to use any implement, or direct any smack at the head in Scotland. But Finnie’s Bill could see parents handed a criminal record for physical contact such as placing an unwilling child into a car seat or a light smack.

‘Unwanted intrusion’

Last week, Lowri Turner, spokesmum for the Be Reasonable campaign, said: “A gentle smack on the back of the legs from a loving mum is not the same as beating up your kids and it’s just so patronising to parents to suggest otherwise.”

“What about if you are from England and go on holiday to Scotland. Is the Scottish Government really saying it’s happy to criminalise tourists? This is an unwanted intrusion by the State and we hope MSPs see common sense”, she added.

And the Family Education Trust also warned against a ban.

Director Norman Wells said: “Making smacking a criminal offence would significantly lower the threshold for intervention in family life and lead to social workers and the police getting involved in families where the children are not at the slightest risk of harm.”


A recent opinion poll in Wales shows widespread concern at the prospect of state interference of the sort proposed in both Scotland and Wales.

The ComRes poll found that 76 per cent are opposed to making parental smacking of children a criminal offence and 77 per cent are concerned it will make it harder for police and social services to tackle actual child abuse.

Visit the Be Reasonable campaign website here.

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