Yesterday, the Welsh Assembly passed a law that bans people in Wales from smacking their children. The ban will come into effect in 2022 and follows Scotland, the first part of the UK to do this.
The law effectively removes the right of ‘reasonable punishment’, from parents and will effectively give children the same rights as adults. It does not give a definition of a smack, although when ‘reasonable punishment’ is used as a defence it is when the victim's injuries are "transient and trifling and amounted to no more than temporary reddening of the skin”.*
Labour and Plaid Cymru backed the bill saying it would stop parents using physical violence as punishment whilst Conservative and Brexit Party AMs have called the bill a ‘snoopers charter’.
Tory AM Janet Finch-Saunders believes that the bill steps into the private lives of families and could have far-reaching consequences. Some have even indicated that it may stop holidaymakers from England and Northern Ireland coming to Wales for fear of breaking the law when it comes to parenting.
It has also been suggested that the ban will put additional pressure on social services departments that are already under huge resource constraints.
How will the smacking ban be enforced?
Any prosecutions will be evidence-based. Police may decide to issue cautions rather than taking offenders to court or issue Community Resolution Orders which would not appear on a criminal record, but would appear on a DBS check and could impact job applications for parents with a Community Resolution Order for smacking their child.
Could the bill result in the negative intervention of good parenting? Or will it protect children and future generations? Time will tell.
Robertsons Solicitors in Cardiff is highly experienced in Child Care Law. If you have any concerns or queries about what this new law may mean for parenting, please do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org