Scotland has become the first country in the UK to ban the smacking of children. The new legislation came into effect on November 7 2020 giving children the same protection from assault as adults. Wales is said to be the next country in the UK to ban smacking by 2022.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimated that one in five adults aged 18 to 74 years old have experienced at least one form of child abuse before the age of 16, whether it was emotional, physical or sexual abuse or have witnessed domestic violence.
According to the Children’s Act 2004, smacking is still permitted in other parts of the UK as it is considered “reasonable punishment”. The Scottish Green MSP John Finnie introduced these changes in the hope of being able to demonstrate to children that violence is unacceptable.
As part of this story, we interviewed a few parents and children to get their view on the matter. One father’s opinion felt that smacking your child is “child abuse”.
He said that “swearing at your children, not looking after their health, not educating them and failing to teach them to be kind to others are all forms of child abuse. They should grow up in a safe and kind world, and not be scared of the world. Our children need to be feeling good about themselves.”
We were also fortunate enough to hear from children themselves. They’ve told us that they disagree with the violent approach as their parents have instilled good behaviours in them through words. They must prefer it when their parents speak to them about the issue rather than shouting at them and being violent.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have conducted research indicating that abusing a child can have a long lasting impact on their health. In order to break the cycle of parents abusing their children because it has been done to them, we need to talk about it more and enforce a new legislation.
If you’re in danger or need someone to speak to regarding violent acts at home. Please call Childline on 0800 1111, the Samaritans on 116 123 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.