Smacking ban ‘elitist’ and ‘patronising’, MSPs told

A sociologist has told MSPs they are “living on another planet” if they think parental smacking is a form of violence.

Dr Stuart Waiton said a new Bill to ban smacking was “tragic and depressing” and underlined the “aloof, elitist nature of politics”.

The Holyrood committee was taking evidence on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill.


Dr Waiton warned that a smacking ban would mean cases of genuine abuse being missed because professionals are “reporting every smacking incident”.

He argued that discipline is different to violence, and to be consistent the Scottish Government would have to ban any kind of discipline.

“I would like to ask how you can differentiate the upset a child feels at being grounded for a week, for example, compared to having their bottom or hand smacked”, he said.

“Because I cannot see how, in the future, if you’re going to be logically consistent, you will not eventually say that that should be banned as well.”

Undermining parents

The academic accused the Scottish Government of “undermining the autonomy of loving parents” in how they raise their children.

He added that the legislation patronised parents, using language that “makes no sense at all to ordinary people”.

Dr Waiton concluded: “I would suggest you think again before making this a criminal offence.”

State interference

Last week, Scottish police chiefs told the committee that a ban would mean increased costs for the force as officers spend more time investigating parents.

Police Scotland also raised concerns that the ban could be considered state interference in family life, where parents are criminalised for behaviour that has been accepted for “generations”.

Polling in Scotland has shown 74 per cent of Scottish adults do not want parental smacking to be criminalised.

Be Reasonable Scotland, which spearheads the campaign opposing the legislation, said the Government needs to “back away” from the plans.