The four commissioners for children and young people in the UK have today united to call on the government to ban the physical punishment of children.
The Welsh commissioner Peter Clarke, commissioner for Northern Ireland Nigel Williams, the Scottish commissioner Kathleen Marshall and the most recently appointed commissioner for England Al Aynsley-Green want legislation introduced to ban the smacking of children.
“We believe that condoning smacking gets in the way of progress,” said a joint statement. “It confuses parents, inhibits child protection and undermines the promotion of positive forms of discipline.”
“It conflicts with our governments’ aspirations for children and our society,” the statement added.
Currently parents can rely on the ancient common law defence of “reasonable chastisement”. But the commissioners want the government to promote consistent legislation across the UK.
“We call upon the government to allow further debate and free votes in the relevant parliamentary assemblies to introduce legislation that will ban the defense of reasonable chastisement throughout the UK. This should be supported with policy and resources to promote positive parenting,” the statement concludes.