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Scotland seeks views on plan to ban smacking

Moves to ban smacking in Scotland and Wales have emerged as school psychologists have been calling for a ban in England

The Scottish Parliament is seeking the public's views on a plan to ban smacking

Moves to ban smacking in Scotland and Wales have emerged as school psychologists have been calling for a ban in England

The Scottish Parliament is today launching a call for views on legal changes that would prevent parents and guardians from smacking their children.

The move comes after school psychologists in England called for smacking to be banned because it harms children's mental health.

The proposed change in Scotland would remove the defence of “reasonable chastisement” from Scots law. Without this, parents and guardians would not be able to physically punish their children.

The proposal, which has been brought forward by Green MSP John Finnie in a Private Members’ Bill, will face scrutiny from the Scottish Parliament’s Human Rights Committee early in 2019, before which the committee is seeking to gather “as wide a range of views as possible”.

Convener Ruth Maguire said: “This Bill has aroused strong views. There are passionately held beliefs on both sides of this argument – from those who think that physical punishment violates a child’s human rights, to those who feel parents should have a right to smack their children.

'Passionately held beliefs about smacking'

“As the proposed law starts making its way through the parliamentary process, we are keen to hear from people in Scotland who have a view on this subject. This will help us as we carry out our role as parliamentarians and inform our consideration of the proposals.”

She added that “absolutely anyone” is invited to give their opinion, with details of how to do so on the Parliament’s website.

In September, England’s Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) put forward a motion to the TUC Congress calling for the banning of corporal punishment "in all settings".

In its motion, the AEP called on the UK government to "acknowledge that physical punishment can have negative long-term effects on a child's development" and is ineffective as a method of discipline.

It also called for legislation to be updated so that the "reasonable punishment" defence included in the Children Act 2004 is removed. Critics say that this defence goes against the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Welsh government is also moving toward an outright ban on smacking.

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