Parents who lightly smack their children in Scotland will now be committing a criminal offence, after the Scottish Government’s controversial ban came into force on Saturday.
The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 means parents will no longer be able to physically chastise their child without fear of a criminal conviction.
Sociologist Dr Ashley Frawley, who campaigned against the ban, says the law will prove to cause more issues than the Scottish Government’s failed Named Person legislation.
Writing in The Herald, she said: “The smacking ban has more to do with punishing parents than preventing the mistreatment of children.
“Discouraging smacking is fine. Many parents choose not to use it. But should we really be dragging parents to court for using light discipline?”
there is no reliable scientific evidence whatsoever to suggest that mild physical discipline does any harm to a child
She said that while activists pushing for a ban claim smacking does great harm to children, throughout the law’s passage through Holyrood “experts stressed that there is no reliable scientific evidence whatsoever to suggest that mild physical discipline does any harm to a child”.
No public awareness
The sociologist also highlighted that in the year since the smacking ban was passed “the Scottish Government has carried out no public awareness-raising about the change in the law.
“Other major cultural changes like the smoking ban were heralded through TV and radio adverts, posters and public notices. But parents in Scotland are supposed to have a sixth sense when it comes to the ban on smacking.
“The first some parents will hear of the ban will be when they answer the phone to a social worker, or answer the door to a police officer, after being reported for using physical discipline.”
‘Named Person on steroids’
Dr Frawley warned: “Activists and politicians who supported this change to the law will not be so triumphant when the horror stories start to emerge: false allegations of smacking by parents trying to get one over on each other; police and social work intervention in perfectly good families; and overburdened child protection professionals struggling to identify at-risk children.
“The disastrous Named Person scheme was hated by parents because it was introduced under the radar and led to unwarranted meddling in family life.
“The smacking ban will be Named Person on steroids.”