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Scotland Bans Parents From Spanking Their Children [Read Bill]

International Legislative Corner

Scotland on October 3, 2019, became the first country in the United Kingdom to outlaw spanking and other physical punishment for children.

The Scottish Parliament has passed a bill, titled as Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill criminalizing physical punishment to children.

John Finnie, a member of the Scottish Parliament who introduced the bill said that the bill will “give children the same legal protection from assault that adults currently enjoy.”

The bill was passed by 84 votes to 29.

At least 57 other countries have a ban on child corporal punishment in place, with Sweden becoming the first to do so, in 1979, according to the BBC.

Before the passing of the bill, the adults and caregivers could use “reasonable” physical force as punishment, the British broadcaster reported.

“I hope that Scotland will take this opportunity and then it can say with some justification that it’s the best place for a child to be brought up,” Finnie told the British Press Association before the vote.

Scottish law now bans all forms of physical punishment, including smacking, kicking, shaking, throwing or scratching children, among other forms of assault, according to the BBC.

In practice, Scottish law allowed some hitting or smacking of children under 16 on their bodies, but did not allow hitting on their heads or shaking, the BBC reported.

Opponents of the Scottish bill, however, said it will unnecessarily criminalize otherwise good parents.

“Seeking to further the protection of children is highly commendable, but a smacking ban is not the way to do it,” Jamie Gillies, from the opposition group Be Reasonable, told reporters before the vote. “The government should invest in current services, which are already hard-pressed, and bolster their ability to identify and tackle abuse.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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