Legislation to ban smacking of children published at Holyrood



Legislation to make smacking children illegal has been published at Holyrood today.

The bill, put forward by Green MSP John Finnie, has been backed by the Scottish government.

While it is expected to pass, the Scottish Conservatives said the current legislation “works well because it is based on common sense, and reflects what the majority of parents want”.

Scotland would become the first part of the UK to outlaw smacking if the bill is passed. Parents in the UK’s other jurisdictions can still administer “reasonable chastisement” against their children.

Under current Scots law, a parent can claim a defence of “justifiable assault” when hitting their children.

Mr Finnie said: “Substantial academic research from around the world shows that physical punishment does not work and is shown to be counterproductive. My bill aims to support parents to make positive choices.

“The bill will not change the way that police and social work deal with assault against children. Rather it establishes the principle that assault can never be ‘justifiable’.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This bill sends a clear signal that all physical punishment of children is wrong. Evidence shows that this can lead to aggressive and problematic behaviour into adolescence and adulthood.”

Writing for the Scottish Legal News Annual Review 2018, Scottish Conservative MSP Gordon Lindhurst took a sceptical look at the proposals, defending existing law.