Smacking: Wales one step closer to criminalising parents

Parents in Wales face being criminalised for disciplining their children after legislation on a smacking ban was backed by politicians.

Assembly Members voted 36 to 15 in favour of the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill yesterday evening.

Be Reasonable, the grassroots campaign group backed by The Christian Institute, expressed disappointment at the result but pledged to continue challenging the ideology behind a ban.


During the debate, AMs lined up to challenge the legislation.

Darren Millar said the Government needs to be supporting parents instead of criminalising them.

Another AM, Caroline Jones, said she had been “inundated with calls and e-mails from concerned parents who fear they will be turned into criminals as a result of the Welsh Government’s proposals”.

And an anonymous senior police officer, who urged politicians not to remove the reasonable chastisement defence because the current law works well, was cited by Neil McEvoy.


Be Reasonable thanked the 15 AMs who “voted to protect parents”, but said it was a “disappointing outcome”.

“By supporting the Bill at Stage 1 AMs chose to ignore a catalogue of risks identified during scrutiny.”

The Bill now returns to committee for further examination.


The official consultation on a smacking ban confirmed strong opposition to criminalising parents for mild discipline.

Hundreds of people and groups gave their views to the Children, Young People and Education Committee earlier this year.

Some 60 per cent said they did not support the legislation. Among individuals, the figure was even higher – at 67.8 per cent.

Scottish ban

In Scotland, similar legislation is being considered.

Members of the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of criminalising parents in May by 80 votes to 29. Two SNP MSPs abstained – defying their party’s instructions.

Smacking Briefing (Wales)

Smacking Briefing (Wales)

The Welsh Government has introduced a Bill to make it a criminal offence for a parent to smack their own child. Those who support this change misrepresent a controlled smack by a loving parent as equivalent to child abuse.

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