As of Monday the 21st of March 2022, Wales has banned the smacking of children.
In a move that has divided people across Wales and beyond, First Minister Mark Drakeford has stated it is an "historic" day for children as Wales becomes the second UK nation to ban physical punishment of children, with Scotland making it illegal in 2020, and Jersey (part of the British Isles but not a nation/country) banning it in 2020 also.
The new Welsh government guidance advises that anyone who suspects a parent of smacking, or if they witness it, to contact the police or social services. Depending on the circumstaces, a parent could have no action taken, be charged and referred to the CPS for prosecution, or an 'out of court disposal' option could be taken, which comprises of positive parenting courses to help parents learn better ways to handle situations.
Critics of the ban have voiced their discontent over the move, claiming that it was pushed through and passed "by those who think they know better than parents", with many jumping on the defence to claim that they were smacked by their own parents growing up and haven't been negatively impacted by the physical punishment.
Many in favour of the ban have been quick to point out that their own children, who are not smacked, are well behaved and respectful, showing that smacking isn't actually of any benefit when it comes to raising a child is seen as 'well rounded'. In fact, there is plenty of scientific evidence supporting the notion that smacking does more harm than good, including this article by Harvard University.
Wales and Scotland were following in the wake of other countries globally who have made the move to ban the physical punishment of children, with Sweden being the first to ban it in 1979. The physical punishment of children is now banned in an astonishing 64 countries/states across the world - find out more about this here!
We think that this is a great move - whilst we completely empathise with parents who, let's face it, are only human and might lose their temper without meaning to once in a while, we think that there needs to be more positive progress towards better, more constructive ways of teaching and disciplining children. With the ban on smacking in place, there will now also be more support put in place by authorities for parents who need a little more emotional, mental and in-person support, with the Welsh government putting their 'Parenting. Give it time' flagship campaign in place.
Parenting can be incredibly tough and many of us find that older generations in our family and support network may hold more 'old fashioned' views about physical punishment, which can mean that struggling parents, in an emotionally-vulnerable place, might be more easily influenced by these views. This ban is a good step in 'breaking the cycle'.
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