Plans to outlaw smacking in Wales would criminalise thousands of ordinary parents, a new campaign group has warned.
Be Reasonable, which is backed by The Christian Institute and the Family Education Trust, is calling for people to sign a petition against the proposals.
The group has published polling showing the Welsh Government’s idea is not supported by parents or the wider public.
The poll of more than 1,000 Welsh adults, by ComRes, revealed that three quarters opposed making smacking a criminal offence.
It found a similar number thought the ban would not help protect vulnerable children.
More than seven in ten, 72 per cent, agreed with the statement, “I support laws against child abuse, but smacking is not child abuse.”
Spokesmum for the Be Reasonable campaign Lowri Turner said: “The people calling for this change are using hysterical and manipulative language.
“They’re trying 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. Does anyone seriously think that that sort of abuse is not already illegal?”
Speaking at a campaign event today in Cardiff, Dr Ashley Frawley, a sociology and social policy academic from Swansea University, was set to warn that removing the current defence of reasonable chastisement could open the floodgates to thousands of minor incidents being reported to the police and social services.
Dr Frawley also commented: “Changing the law is a gross interference in family life and it’s entirely unnecessary because the law already protects children from abuse.”
Colin Harris, who practised as a solicitor for 45 years, including around 30 years on the Law Society children’s panel, also spoke out against the plans.
He said: “The relationship between a parent and their child is unique, and comes with unique responsibilities.
“Politicians must not create a legal fiction by treating ordinary parental discipline as if it was criminal assault.”
“I practised criminal law for decades. Criminalising a smack given in love and as necessary parental discipline cannot be justified”, Harris added.
The petition states: “I oppose the Welsh Government’s plan to criminalise parents who smack their children.” It can be signed at www.bereasonable.wales by residents of Wales aged 16 and over.