MSP says ‘lets make it illegal to smack children’

Rona Mackay
Rona Mackay

Many or even most people frown on the notion of smacking children these days, but should it be made illegal?

Yes, says Strathkelvin and Bearsden MSP Rona Mackay, who gave her strong backing to a forthcoming Bill which would ban smacking when she appeared on a recent TV show.

The Scottish Government isn’t officially backing the move - but won’t oppose it either - and it’s been suggested political parties may decide to give MSPs a free vote on the issue.

But on the Victoria Derbyshire show Ms Mackay left no doubt that she will back the Bill lodged by John Finnie MSP to make Scotland the 53rd country to ban smacking by law.

She debated the matter with Mary Glasgow from Children 1st and Richard Lucas from the Scottish Family Party on the BBC morning show.

The SNP MSP said: “It was great to go on the Victoria Derbyshire show and make the case of why hitting children is never justifiable and can have long lasting effects in later life.

“I was delighted to hear strong evidential arguments from Mary Glasgow, a director of Children 1st, Scotland’s national children’s charity.

“This Bill does not create a new offence, it removes the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ and ‘justifiable assault’ from the existing offence of common assault.

“The evidence against hitting children is overwhelming and I fully support this Bill.”

The Bill proposes ending the existing common-law position that physical punishment by parents can be defended as reasonable chastisement and therefore is lawful. T

There are now 52 countries where physical punishment is unlawful, including France, Germany, Norway and Denmark.

Sweden became the first country in the world to change the law in 1979, with one of the most recent being the Republic of Ireland, where the law was changed in 2015.

The UK is now one of only six EU Member States out of 28 which has not changed the law.

In other parts of the UK, as is the case in Scotland, whilst there are restrictions on the physical punishment of children there is no outright ban.