Scottish people who see a parent smacking their child should dial 999

Scottish people who see a parent smacking their child should dial 999 to report a crime, Nicola Sturgeon’s government says

  • Members of the public urged to call 999 if they witness a parent smacking
  • Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 comes into force
  • The new law was introduced by Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie last year

Members of the public in Scotland are being urged to call 999 to report parents caught smacking their children as the SNP Government brings in sweeping new powers outlawing the corporal punishment of children. 

Parents will face criminal prosecution for physically punishing or disciplining their children as the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 comes into force from November 7.

The new law, which was passed by Nicola Sturgeon’s Government last year, will see Scotland become the first country in the UK to ban parents from smacking their children. 

Under the current law, parents are allowed to use ‘reasonable’ force to discipline their children under the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’.

However the new law will remove the defence and is aimed at giving children the same protection from assault as adults.    

Members of the public in Scotland are being urged to call 999 to report parents who are seen smacking their children as the new Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 comes into force from November 7. (Stock image)

Scottish ministers published their new rules under the headline: ‘If you see someone physically punishing their child. You should call 999 to report a crime in progress or if a child or young person is in immediate danger.

‘You can also call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed.’     

However campaigners have since warned that new law- while well intentioned- contradicted previous statements from the Government and would leave some parents paying a ‘heavy price’.

Dr Ashley Frawley, sociologist and spokeswoman for the campaign group Be Reasonable, told The Telegraph: ‘Parents and carers in Scotland should be outraged at the dishonesty of the political class. A smacking ban was completely unnecessary.

‘There is no evidence that light physical discipline harms children, and current laws already criminalise abuse.

‘The ban is nothing but a virtue signalling exercise by out-of-touch elites. They may feel good about themselves just now but ordinary mums and dads will pay a heavy price.’  

The bill was passed at the Scottish Government in 2019, despite a YouGov poll of 1,546 adults from across the UK which suggested 57 per cent opposed the move.

Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie, who introduced the bill, said the new law sent a ‘strong message’ that violence was never acceptable.   

Upon passing the bill he said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that the Scottish Parliament has taken this historic and courageous step.

The new law, which was voted in by Nicola Sturgeon’s government in 2019, parents will face criminal prosecution for using corporal punishment

The campaign group Be Reasonable said the law would leave some parents paying a ‘heavy price’

‘The leadership shown by MSPs will send a strong message that violence is never acceptable in any setting, and that our children deserve at least the same legal protections that adults enjoy.

‘Physical punishment has no place in 21st century Scotland. The international evidence tells us that it can have serious impacts on children, and that it is not effective.

‘As I have progressed this campaign over the last three years, it has become clear just how many people believed that striking a child was already outlawed.

‘I am extremely proud to have brought forward the legislation that will enhance children’s rights in Scotland and believe that today we have taken a huge step toward making Scotland the best country in the world for children to grow up in.’ 

Addressing critics of the law Mr Finnie added: ‘There is no evidence that a change to the law results in increased prosecutions in any of the more than 50 countries where some of the reforms have taken place.

‘In fact, this change in the law in Ireland prompted more parents to contact services to ask for help and support with alternative disciplining techniques.

‘Surely this is something which should be welcomed, and an encouraging consequence of a positive legal change.’ 

The move comes just months after Jersey became the first Channel Island to ban hitting, smacking or slapping children under any circumstances.

Jersey’s government voted in favour of the ban in December last year and became the first of the British Isles to enforce the new bill on April 24 this year.

In January, Wales joined Scotland in passing a law banning the smacking of children after Assembly members voted 36 to 14 in the Senedd in favour of the Welsh Government bill.

It will see the country join 58 other nations including Scotland to end the physical punishment of children.

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