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Smacking law set to be debated in the Senedd for the first time

Credit: PA Images

A proposed law banning the smacking of children is set to be debated in the Senedd for the first time later.

The Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill was introduced in March.

The Welsh Government says the purpose of the Bill is to help protect children's rights.

Some critics say the law will divert police resources away from other crimes, other say the law interferes with parents' freedom to bring up their children.

If passed by the National Assembly for Wales and it becomes law, parents and other adults acting in a parental capacity will no longer be able to physically punish children.

The debate is the final part of the stage one process, which has heard evidence from a variety of organisations and representatives including the police, local authorities, children's services and health services who have all backed the bill.

It has also received support from a number of children's charities including the NSPCC, Barnardo's Cymru, Save the Children, Action for Children and Children in Wales. The Children's Commissioner for Wales has also welcomed its introduction.

There is no reason to ever hit a child. As part of the discussion people have justified smacking because they were hit as a child. But what may have been deemed as appropriate in the past is no longer acceptable.

Our children deserve to be treated with the same respect and dignity as adults. As a government we want to give children in Wales the same level of protection from physical punishment as adults.

Now is the time for Wales to join more than 55 other nations across the world who have taken steps to end the physical punishment of children.

– The Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan

Neil McEvoy, Independent AM for South Wales Central, citing a letter from a serving senior police officer sent to AMs this week as he called on the Government not to ignore concerns about banning smacking.

There are real concerns about how workable this smacking ban is going to be. Here we’ve got an experienced police officer writing to AMs saying the majority of officers think it is dangerous to pull front-line officers into allegations of a mum tapping her toddler on the behind, or indeed parents in general doing this.

We’ve got enough trouble enforcing the existing laws against child abuse without confusing the picture by treating mums like abusers just because they use a little tap.

– Neil McEvoy, Independent AM for South Wales Central