Welsh First Minister: I smacked my children

Carwyn Jones, whose Government wants to criminalise parents for smacking their children, says he physically chastised his own kids.

Mr Jones, speaking during a public meeting in Llanelli, said he was also smacked as a child.

Campaigners say plans to ban smacking would criminalise loving parents who discipline their children, and the issue dominated questions at the ‘Carwyn Connects’ event last week.

‘Normal’

Mr Jones said when his children were younger he had smacked them, and commented: “I was smacked and from my perspective, it was normal, you didn’t think anything of it.”

The First Minister, who on Saturday announced his intention to step down, made no suggestion that either he or his children had been harmed by the experience.

But stating that “we need to move away from that way of disciplining children”, he claimed that steps could be taken to limit prosecutions.

“The prosecution guidance would need to be explicit to make sure that people aren’t prosecuted for the most minor breaches of the law”, he said.

Challenge

However, audience members challenged the First Minister, with one saying verbal assurances were a poor substitute for clarity in the law.

Another quoted polling showing that over three-quarters of Welsh adults think it should be parents who decide how to raise children.

Be Reasonable Wales said the event “demonstrated the breadth of opposition to the Government’s plans”.

Well-rounded

The instigator of the plans to ban smacking in Scotland has also admitted to smacking his children.

Green MSP John Finnie said his children had nevertheless become “well-rounded offspring”.

In England the Children Act 2004 does not criminalise parents for smacking. A similar law exists in Northern Ireland.

Effect on children

Following the smacking ban in Sweden – in 1979 – research showed children became markedly less accepting of parental instructions.

In 2000, only 4 per cent of teenagers felt that their parents had the right to “threaten to forbid something”. In 1995, the figure stood at 39 per cent.

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