Law Society of Scotland: Education is essential next step for new smacking ban

Law Society of Scotland: Education is essential next step for new smacking ban

New legislation banning the smacking of children needs to be supported by a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign, according to the Law Society of Scotland. 

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill passed by the Scottish Parliament yesterday abolishes the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ from Scots law.

During public consultation on the bill the Law Society said the changes would give children and adults equal legal protection from assault. While welcoming this clarification of the law, the Law Society’s response also stressed the importance of education to support changes in public attitudes and behaviour towards smacking ahead of implementation.

Morag Driscoll, the Law Society’s Family Law Committee convener, said: “This legislation brings Scotland in line with our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It allows us to join the growing international community who fully protect children from physical punishment.

“The reasonable chastisement defence attracted criticism from international children’s rights organisations. However, Scotland is now sending a clear message that all forms of assault against children are unacceptable.

“Driving meaningful behavioural change requires much more than changing the law. The Scottish Government now needs to launch a comprehensive public education and awareness campaign to alert people to these changes.”

Deborah Wilson, convener of the Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee, said: “The bill puts children and adults on a level playing field when it comes to protection from assault. Removal of the reasonable chastisement defence provides consistency in law and means assaults on children will no longer be justifiable in court.”

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