MSP Rona Mackay has made the case for a Bill which seeks to legislate against smacking children on the Victoria Derbyshire show.
The Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP debated the matter with Mary Glasgow from Children 1st and Richard Lucas from the Scottish Family Party on the BBC morning show.
She said: “It was great to go on the Victoria Derbyshire show and make the case of why hitting children is never justifiable and can have long lasting effects in later life.
“I was delighted to hear strong evidential arguments from Mary Glasgow, a director of Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity. This Bill does not create a new offence, it removes the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ and ‘justifiable assault’ from the existing offence of common assault.
“The evidence against hitting children is overwhelming and I fully support this Bill.”
From Rona Mackay MSP by Alan Ferguson
John Finnie MSP is proposing and has consulted on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill
The First Minister said during the Programme for Government: “While it is not our proposal and indeed it may be an issue on which parties will give their members a free vote, the Scottish Government will not oppose John Finnie’s proposals to prohibit the physical punishment of children.”
The Bill proposes ending the existing common-law position that physical punishment by parents can be defended as reasonable chastisement and therefore be lawful. The Bill will not create a new criminal offence, as the common law offence of assault will apply International comparisons:
There are now 52 countries where physical punishment is unlawful, including France, Germany, Norway and Denmark
Sweden became the first country in the world to change the law in 1979, with one of the most recent being the Republic of Ireland, where the law was changed in 2015
The UK is now one of only 6 EU Member States, out of 28, not to have changed the law.
The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 prohibited certain forms of physical punishment of children in Scotland (blows to the head, shaking, hitting with an implement)
The 2003 Act left room for parents and others caring for or in charge of children to plead a defence of “justifiable assault” under the existing common law.
In other parts of the UK, as is the case in Scotland, whilst there are restrictions on the physical punishment of children (largely by the 1998 ECHR ruling), there is no outright ban.