NSPCC calls for ban on physical punishment for children in Northern Ireland

The NSPCC is calling for a ban to physical punishment of children in Northern Ireland

A charity has called for physical punishment of children to be banned in Northern Ireland.

The NSPCC urged political leaders to get behind the call on the first anniversary of the ban of physical punishment in Wales.

The law in Northern Ireland allows a parent or carer to physically punish a child by using a defence of reasonable punishment if they are charged with assault.

The NSPCC said research shows almost two-thirds (65%) of adults support a change in the law to protect children from being physically punished by their parents and carers.

A law change would bring Northern Ireland in line with 63 other countries including Wales, Scotland, Jersey and the Republic of Ireland.

The NSPCC is also calling on the Government to provide inclusive and comprehensive positive advice and information to better support parents and carers.

Natalie Whelehan, policy and public affairs manager for NSPCC Northern Ireland, said the charity wants political leaders to make a ban on punishment a priority.

"We know from our research that parents and carers do not believe that physical punishment is an effective form of discipline," she said.

"We also know that it can be a key risk factor for more serious physical abuse.

"There is a clear tidal wave of support for a change in the law to remove the defence of 'reasonable punishment' and give our children equal protection in law from assault as adults.

"But we also understand, particularly with the cost-of-living crisis we are facing, that families are under enormous pressure.

"Shockingly only a third of parents who took part in our research had ever received any information to support them to parent more positively and effectively without the use of physical punishment. Families are being let down and we need to see immediate investment for parents and carers in this challenging aspect of parenthood.

"We urge our politicians to make this a priority for a reformed Northern Ireland Executive and move forward together to change the law to better protect children in Northern Ireland from this harmful and ineffective form of punishment and support families in line with its commitments on positive parenting."

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