Scotland becomes first country in the United Kingdom to ban smacking

Scottish parents are no longer allowed to smack their children after the passing of a law which makes the physical punishment illegal. 

MSPs voted 84 to 29 in support of the smacking ban, which gives kids the same protection from violence as adults by removing the defense of justifiable assault.

This means that Scotland is in effect the first country in the United Kingdom to make smacking a criminal offense, which now meets the United Nations standards.

Previous laws allowed parents and carers to use “reasonable” force to keep their children in line.

In schools, physical punishment has already been banned.

Former police officer and MSP of the Scottish Greens, John Finnie brought the bill to life, arguing that “physical violence has no place in 21st century Scotland”.

According to him, the bill sends a “strong message” that violence is never acceptable.

“I am absolutely delighted that the Scottish Parliament has taken this historic and courageous step,” Mr Finnie said.

The leadership shown by MSPs will send a strong message that violence is never acceptable in any setting, and that our children deserve at least the same legal protections that adults enjoy.

The international evidence tells us that it can have serious impacts on children, and that it is not effective,” he added.

Anna May Magden and Shona Sibery, both mothers of four, debate whether it is ever okay to smack a child.

School psychologists have said that smacking could damage the mental health of children.

A 2018 poll run by Sky Data found that 64% of Britons believe “unreasonable” smacking should be viewed as a crime.

However, opinion polls showed that the majority of Scottish people are in opposition to a smacking ban.

Opponents of the bill believe that it could criminalize parents simply for wanting to discipline their children.

Scottish Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell said:

“I believe violence against children is wrong. However, that is not the issue before us today.

“I don’t think that it’s foreseeable at all for parents what circumstances they could find themselves entangled with the criminal justice system.”

For a supporting viewpoint on physical discipline, see the video below. 

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