SMACKING children is now against the law in Scotland, making it the first part of the UK to introduce such a ban.
New legislation giving children the same protection from assault as adults came into effect yesterday after the previous defence of “justifiable assault” was removed.
It means that Scotland has become the 58th country in the world to outlaw corporal punishment. Wales is expected to introduce a similar ban by 2022.
Scottish Green MSP John Finnie, who spearheaded the change, said he hoped it would help to show children that violence is not acceptable.
“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,” he said. “I am pleased that this will now be the case.”
Scotland’s Children’s Minister Maree Todd also welcomed the ban.
“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,” she said. “This outdated defence has no place in a modern Scotland. It can never be reasonable to strike a child.”
The new legislation has had cross-party support and backing from charities.
Joanna Barrett, NSPCC Scotland policy and public affairs officer, said it gave children in Scotland their “rightful protection” against assault and the same safeguards as adults. “By making this common-sense move to get rid of the outdated defence of ‘justifiable assault’, we will be joining more than 50 other countries around the world in taking measures to protect the most vulnerable members of society,” she said.
However campaign group Be Reasonable Scotland, which opposed the legislation, warned that “even the mildest physical discipline will be treated as abuse” and could lead to parents being prosecuted.
A spokesman for the group said: “In the years ahead, loving parents who have had no contact with the authorities previously and who present no risk to their children will face stressful intervention, blacklisting on police databases and even criminal records for smacking.
“The majority of Scots see this as an injustice, not a positive change.”