SNP U-turns on criminalising parents who smack their children

The Scottish Government has said it will “ensure” a proposal that criminalises parents who smack their children becomes law.

The move represents a dramatic U-turn on its previous stance on the issue.

In April, the Scottish Government said that it did not support a smacking ban “which could potentially criminalise parents for lightly smacking their children.”

Govt support

The ban would be implemented by way of a Member’s Bill put forward by Green MSP John Finnie.

Last month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared that her party would not stand in the way of Finnie’s Bill.

The Govt has now gone further: “Mr Finnie’s proposals are not a Scottish government bill, however we will ensure the proposals become law.”

Existing Scottish legislation specifically outlaws blows to the head, shaking, or the use of an implement. Critics have highlighted that Finnie’s proposal could see parents handed a criminal record for lovingly disciplining their children and leaves them at risk of being labelled as child abusers.

Be Reasonable Scotland

Be Reasonable Scotland said a ban would be “wildly unpopular” and “a gross intrusion on family life by politicians who are totally out of touch with real people”.

For more information on the campaign, which is being backed by The Christian Institute and the Family Education Trust, visit Be Reasonable Scotland’s website.

In Wales, a recent opinion poll showed widespread concern at a similar plan to ban smacking from the Welsh Government.

The ComRes poll found that 76 per cent are opposed to making parental smacking of children a criminal offence and 77 per cent are concerned it will make it harder for police and social services to tackle actual child abuse.

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