Scots to introduce strict laws on hitting children

Stricter laws on the physical punishment of
children are to be introduced in Scotland following an announcement
by Jim Wallace, justice minister.

The new proposals introduce a total ban on
blows to the head, shaking and the use of implements. Physically
punishing any child under two years will be outlawed. Child care
centres, childminders and non-publicly funded pre-school centres
will be prohibited from physically punishing children.

The proposals follow a UK-wide consultation on
the issue, but there has been no indication that legislation will
follow for England and Wales. The Department of Health has said it
will publish its response to the consultation before the end of the

Making the announcement Wallace said: “Parents
will keep the right to reasonably chastise their children but
greater restrictions on what is allowed will be enacted.”

The proposals are bound to receive no more
than a guarded welcome from many child care organisations who
lobbied for a complete ban on the physical punishment of all
children during the Scottish executive’s consultation process. The
proposals will be laid out in full in a white paper to be published
in October and incorporated into the Criminal Justice Bill. It is
likely to become law by the end of 2002.

Wallace said: “We want to amend the law to
protect children from punishment that is harsh, degrading and
completely inappropriate in a decent society.”

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