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Child smacking law problems looming on county border

Created on 12/01/2018 @ 08:03
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Smacking your child could soon be illegal in one part of Llanymynech and not the other.

People in Wales are set to be asked their views on the Welsh government’s plans to ban the smacking of children and that could mean different laws for villagers split by the Powys/Shropshire border.

If implemented, the ban would make Wales the second area of the UK to end the physical punishment of children after the Scottish Government announced its plans to remove the defence of “justifiable assault’’ in Scots law, which allows parents to use physical punishment to admonish a child.

But there are no plans to change the law in England, leading to possible confusion on the Shropshire-Mid Wales border where neighbourhoods could be split in two.

In Wales, the government plans to remove the defence of reasonable punishment to the offences of battery and assault.

Launching a 12-week consultation on the issue, the minister for children and social care, Huw Irranca-Davies, said the ban would be part of a wider package of measures to support children to have the best start in life.

“We want parents in Wales to be confident in managing their children’s behaviour without feeling they must resort to physical punishment,” he said. “If there is any potential risk of harm to a child then it is our obligation as a government to take action.

 “Legislation was introduced many years ago to stop physical punishment in schools and childcare settings – now is the time to ensure it is no longer acceptable anywhere.”

Mr Irranca-Davies said he was aware there were differing views on the legislation and that the consultation, which closes on April 2, would provide everyone an opportunity to have their say.

The proposed legislation would not result in the creation of a new offence but would instead remove a defence to the existing offences of assault and battery, meaning an adult looking after a child would no longer be able to use physical or corporal punishment against them.

A spokesman for NSPCC Cymru said the charity had long campaigned for children in Wales to have the same protection against assault as adults.

“We welcome the steps being taken towards removing the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’,” he said. “Doing so is a common-sense move which is about fairness and equality for children.

“It is wrong that a defence which does not exist in a case of common assault against an adult can be used to justify striking a child.

“Closing this loophole will bring Wales in line with dozens of countries around the world and finally give our children equal protection under the law.”

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