- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
Speaking in today’s Assembly debate on ‘lawful chastisement’, Mid and West Wales Labour AM Joyce Watson said:
“We heard the same sensationalist nonsense six years ago when the UK Government introduced a law against smacking children so hard it leaves a mark. Good parents will be banged up, they said. But this hasn’t happened. Why? Because the law is perfectly capable of navigating grey areas and prosecuting according to what is in the public interest.
“I do not believe that smacking is the right way of dealing with bad behaviour and does not help teach children the difference between right and wrong, and Wales should abolish the use of parental force for the purposes of correction.
“Removing lawful chastisement would also make it easier to protect children and make it harder to excuse physical abuse.
“When it comes to the letter of the law, surely it is best to start from the position that hitting a child is wrong and work backwards from there, rather than saying, “It is okay to hit a child this hard, but not that hard”.
“This is not about ‘going after’ parents who have given their child a tap. This hasn’t happened in the countries that have introduced similar legislation, and we should trust our police and courts to use discretion.
“Neither should it prevent parents from stopping their child from running out into the road or reaching for a hot stove, as opponents have claimed. In countries like New Zealand where this legislation has been brought in, adults are still able to use ‘force’ – to hold or restrain a child in order to keep them safe, or carry them out of the supermarket when they misbehave, for that matter.
“The crux of the issue is that removing the ambiguity of lawful chastisement would take away any caveat for violence against children, making it easier to prosecute genuine cases of abuse. Surely that is a sensible approach?”