Ban on smacking of children comes into force in landmark legislation

The new legislation, which came into force on Saturday 7 November, gives children the same protection from assault as adults.

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 removed the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement,” effectively making it illegal to use physical punishment to discipline children.

The law has been changed to give greater clarity to what constitutes reasonable chastisement, and because of growing evidence showing that physical punishment is harmful, is not effective, and is not in the best interests of children.

Scotland is the first UK nation to pass such legislation, however Wales is expected to follow suit with the introduction of a ban by 2022.

Maree Todd, Children’s Minister, said: “I’m very pleased that Scotland has become the first part of the UK to legislate to ensure that children, without exception, have the same protection from assault as adults.

“This outdated defence has no place in a modern Scotland. It can never be reasonable to strike a child.”

John Finnie, Scottish Green MSP, who introduced the Bill, said: “As I have progressed my campaign over the last four years, it has been noticeable just how many people believed that striking a child was already outlawed.”

If you someone physically punishing their child, the Scottish Government recommends you call 101, or contact your local council if you are concerned about harm to a child from physical punishment by visiting https://www.cosla.gov.uk/councils

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