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Final vote on so-called smacking ban

Credit: PA Images

Assembly Members will today vote on a Bill to ban smacking children.

If the Bill receives Royal Assent, it will become an Act. If the Act comes into force, parents and other adults acting in a parental capacity will no longer be able to rely on the defence of reasonable punishment if accused of assault or battery of a child.

In its journey through the Senedd, evidence has been heard from a range of organisations including the Royal College of Paediatrics, Royal College of Nursing, Association of Directors of Social Services and all police forces in Wales, which support the principles of the Bill.

The Bill has also been supported by 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 the move to change the law.

In my view, changing the law around reasonable punishment is fundamental in a country that believes in children's rights.

It's time for Wales to join more than 55 other nations across the world, including Scotland, to end the physical punishment of children. This law will bring clarity for parents, professionals and children that physically punishing a child is not acceptable in Wales.

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

We are confident that, over time, this legislation will drive forward the cultural change in parenting that research shows us is already well underway. It is an important opportunity for the wellbeing of children and family relationships to improve as well as being an investment in the wellbeing of the next generation of parents and carers.

The minority who have opposed this change say police and social services will be overwhelmed. That hasn’t been the view of the police and social work professionals themselves.

Those opposed say this change will damage family life when all the research tells us the opposite – that physical punishment harms children. They say parents will be criminalised in great numbers when this isn’t the evidence from the myriad other countries where this change in the law has taken place

– Sarah Crawley, Director, Barnardo’s Cymru