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Smacking ban will 'reduce potential harm' to children says Assembly committee

Credit: PA

The proposal to ban smacking children has moved a step closer in Wales.

The National Assembly for Wales's Children, Young People and Education Committee has announced its support of the Bill to remove the defence of reasonable punishment.

The legal defence of "reasonable chastisement" has been used in law since 1860.

On 25 March 2019, the Welsh Government introduced the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales).

If passed, it will mean that it would no longer be legal for children in Wales to be physically punished.

Read more: Campaign launched to promote alternatives to smacking for parents in Wales

The Committee, Chair, Lynne Neagle AM said it will ''reduce the risk of potential harm'' to children and young people.

Front line professionals have told us that this Bill will improve their ability to protect children living in Wales because it will make the law clear. We have been told that, as a result, this will help them better protect children.

Professionals also told us that this Bill will make a significant difference because it provides a clear line for them and, importantly, a clear boundary that parents, children and the wider public can clearly understand.

On balance, the majority of our Committee believes there is a strong argument that this Bill will reduce the risk of potential harm to children and young people.

– Lynne Neagle AM

The Committee said an awareness raising campaign about what this Bill will do is fundamental to its success, and that universal support must be available to parents across Wales.

It added that much more needs to be done to help all families with the inevitable challenges that parenting brings.

81%
of parents of young children disagreed it is 'sometimes necessary' to smack a naughty child.

Research published last year found 81% of parents of young children in Wales disagreed that "it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child", while a survey in 2017 found only 11% of parents with young children reported they had smacked their children in the last six months.

Wales would join 54 countries around the world which have already banned the physical punishment of children, including Greece, Latvia, Albania, DR Congo, Kenya, with Sweden being the first to do so back in 1979.

The Bill will need to go through several further stages before it would become law, and the final decision will rest with all sixty Assembly Members.