Most Scottish voters oppose criminalising parents who smack their children

Less than a third of voters in Scotland support plans to criminalise parents who smack their own children, a new poll has found.

A Bill to introduce a smacking ban has been put forward by John Finnie MSP, and received the full support of the SNP Government.

But according to a poll for The Sunday Times in Scotland, the majority of voters support the current law.


Over 1,000 voters took part in the Panelbase survey, with just 30 per cent supporting Finnie’s proposal.

Over half – 53 per cent – said smacking should still be allowed and 17 per cent were unsure.

Be Reasonable Scotland, a campaign group opposed to the plan, welcomed the result.

The clear evidence is that the vast majority of Scots do not back a ban.

Be Reasonable


The group, which is supported by The Christian Institute and others, said: “The Scottish Government are so out of touch on this, it is unbelievable. Banning smacking would criminalise the overwhelming majority of Scots parents.”

It added that the SNP had not included such a ban in its manifesto and had previously rejected the concept.

The Be Reasonable spokesman continued: “The question for MSPs is not whether you should smack your children. It is whether you want to criminalise hundreds of thousands of parents who do.

“The clear evidence is that the vast majority of Scots do not back a ban. Those people need to communicate this to their MSPs before it’s too late.”


The Scottish Government defended the proposal, claiming it had support for the move.

However, in 2017, another poll found 64 per cent of Scottish adults believed parents should be allowed to smack their children, at least in some circumstances.

And research by Be Reasonable found almost three quarters of people believe parental smacking should not be a criminal offence.

Nearly 80 per cent were concerned that such a ban might “flood police and social workers with trivial cases”.

Join the Be Reasonable campaign.