Scottish government asks public if smacking children should be banned


Members of the public are being asked to give their views on proposed legislation to bansmackingchildren inScotland.

Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee has launched a call for views on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill.

Introduced by Green MSP John Finnie as a private member’s Bill it would, if passed, remove the defence of “justifiable assault” in Scots law, which allows parents to use physical punishment on children.

he legislation is expected to be passed as it has been backed by theScottish Governmentand MSPs from across all the political parties.

A recent Panelbase poll of 1,024 voters forThe Sunday Times Scotlandfound 30 per cent backed a ban, while 53 per cent believe smacking should still be allowed and the remainder were unsure.

However, a public consultation last year received more than 650 responses with almost 75 per cent of those in favour of a ban.

Organisations including the Scottish Police Federation, Barnardo’s Scotland, the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland and the NSPCC also back outlawing smacking.

Campaign group Be Reasonable Scotland, supported by The Christian Institute and The Family Education Trust, argues a ban will “criminalise parents”.

Equalities and Human Rights Committee Convener, Ruth Maguire, said: “This Bill has aroused strong views.

“There are passionately held beliefs on both sides of this argument, from those who think that physical punishment violates a child’s human rights, to those who feel parents should have a right to smack their children.

“As the proposed law starts making its way through the Parliamentary process, we are keen to hear from people in Scotland who have a view on this subject.

“This will help us as we carry out our role as parliamentarians and inform our consideration of the proposals.

“While committee members will be getting out and about around Scotland, engaging with young people and community groups, absolutely anyone can submit their views to us.”

A spokesman for Be Reasonable Scotland said: “More than 140 countries around the world continue to respect parents’ freedom, and responsibility, to discipline their children appropriately.

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