Executive u-turn on smacking ban

Proposals to ban the smacking of children under the age of three
have been abandoned by the Scottish executive, writes
Nicola Barry

The decision taken by justice minister Jim Wallace was announced
after a parliamentary committee rejected the establishment of an
offence banning the smacking of toddlers proposed in the Criminal
Justice (Scotland) Bill.

Unveiling the proposal on smacking in March, the executive said
it was not creating a new offence, but changing the defence of
“reasonable chastisement” to a charge of assault.

However, Justice 2 committee convener Pauline McNeill said: “We
do not wish to see an increase in the prosecution of parents for
moderate physical punishment.

“The committee suggests that the option of public education and
improved support for parents, as an alternative to legislation, may
have been dismissed too easily.”

Maggie Mellon, head of public policy for NCH, said the decision
was a huge disappointment: “The justice committee seem to have made
their decision on the basis that children are well enough protected
by the law as it stands. That is not true.

“NCH has always said that the defence of ‘reasonable
chastisement’ should be abolished, and decisions would then
be based on the ordinary law of assault which would give children
far better protection.”

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