Wales joins Scotland in outlawing smacking (from 2022)

(Title Image: The Herald)

A week after the final round of amendments, yesterday afternoon AMs voted on whether to approve the Smacking Ban Bill.

Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services, Julie Morgan (Lab, Cardiff North), said this wasn’t about judging the parenting decisions of the past, but helping raise children without resorting to physical violence, bringing Wales in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

She said a public awareness campaign will start this spring and will continue “for a number of years” and later added that public opinion was increasingly on the government’s side.

“I think it’s an interesting point that 58% of the Welsh public already think that this is the law….81% of young parents with young children think that it is not necessary to physically punish a child….All the research that the Welsh Government has done has shown a distinct change in mood.”
– Deputy Minister for Health & Social Services, Julie Morgan

Janet Finch-Saunders AM (Con, Aberconwy) believed the law was stepping into the private lives of families and could potentially have far-reaching consequences if parents are criminally liable for smacking their children. It also may not work.

“13 years after (New Zealand’s) smacking ban, a survey found that almost 40% of mothers would still smack their child, and 70% would not report a parent if they witnessed a parent smacking their child on the backside or the hand. So, this may not even have as much of an impact as you had intended.”
– Janet Finch-Saunders AM

Helen Mary Jones AM (Plaid, Mid & West Wales) believed the Welsh Government bent over backwards to accommodate amendments from the Conservatives. She didn’t accept the argument that family lives would be intruded as they’re intruded regularly; it used to be legal for a husband to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb.

Despite dropping more than a few hints that he opposes corporal punishment, Mark Reckless AM (BXP, South Wales East) appealed to public opinion, saying that for as long as there’s a large dissenting group opposed to a ban, it should be an issue decided by parents alone.

The Tories had a free vote and David Melding AM (Con, South Wales Central) and Angela Burns AM (Con, Carms. W. & S. Pembs.) both voted in favour of the Bill.

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