Parents will get say on Welsh bid to ban smacking

Parents will be consulted by the Welsh Assembly over plans to ban smacking.

Labour First Minister Carwyn Jones announced last month that ministers would seek to outlaw the defence of “reasonable chastisement”.

The Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children in the Welsh Assembly, Carl Sargeant, announced the consultation last week.

Loving parents

Currently, parents are allowed to use smacking as a form of discipline and a poll in 2014 showed that almost seven in ten people in Wales opposed a parental smacking ban.

In the Assembly, Sargeant reiterated the First Minister’s comments and said discussions would take place with the other political parties and “with parents and stakeholders”.

He was questioned by Darren Millar AM about whether he accepted that “many parents who love their children use, sparingly, reasonable chastisement”.

Sargeant avoided the question but denied that the legislation would criminalise parents.

Intelligent

Deputy Director for Public Affairs at The Christian Institute Simon Calvert welcomed the consultation, but warned against the proposed ban.

“It’s right that parents in Wales should have a chance to respond to the plan to ban smacking because they are the ones who could be criminalised.

“Good parents can tell the difference between a loving smack and physical abuse and the law needs to be intelligent enough to recognise the same distinction.

Criminals

“Parents should have freedom to discipline their own children in a reasonable way and the existing defence of reasonable chastisment rightly allows them that freedom.

“Despite the minister’s protestations, removing the defence will serve to criminalise loving and responsible parents who are seeking to do what’s best for their children.

“Police and social workers who should be trying to identify and help abused children will instead find themselves pursuing ordinary loving families.”

The Welsh Assembly has debated the issue of parental smacking a number of times in recent years. It has previously voted for a ban in principle.

Opposition

Last year members were warned that amending the legislation could have the unintended consequence of “criminalising normal parenting practices” – including washing a child’s face against their wishes.

However, Plaid Cymru and Welsh Labour both placed proposals to ban smacking in their manifestos.

The Liberal Democrat AM, Kirsty Williams, is also known to be in favour of a ban.

The Welsh Conservatives have previously voted in favour of keeping the present law. It is believed that UKIP would also oppose a ban on smacking.

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