Smacking children is now officially illegal in Wales

21 March 2022, 10:23 | Updated: 21 March 2022, 10:33

Smacking children is now illegal in Wales
Smacking children is now illegal in Wales. Picture: Alamy
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Children now have the same protection from assault as adults in Wales.

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Smacking children is now illegal in Wales under a new law.

The legal defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ has been removed, so anyone who smacks a child in their care could be arrested and prosecuted for assault.

This means children have the same protection from assault as adults, with the law applying to anyone visiting the country.

Mark Drakeford has called it a 'historic day'
Mark Drakeford has called it a 'historic day'. Picture: Alamy

Any form of physical punishment was already illegal in schools, children's homes and childcare settings.

First Minister Mark Drakeford has called it a ‘historic’ day for children in the country.

He said: "The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child makes it clear that children have the right to be protected from harm and from being hurt and this includes physical punishment.

"That right is now enshrined in Welsh law. No more grey areas. No more defence of reasonable punishment. That is all in the past."

Jersey was the first part of the British Isles to ban smacking in April 2020 with Scotland making it illegal in November 2020.

Wales has banned smacking
Wales has banned smacking. Picture: Alamy

In 1979, Sweden became the first country country in the world to ban physical punishment of children and 63 nations have since implemented similar laws.

Viv Laing, the policy and public affairs manager at NSPCC Cymru Wales, has urged both England and Northern Ireland to follow in their footsteps.

She said: “In Wales, as in more than 60 countries around the world, we will no longer tolerate physical violence against children.

“Until now, children were the only group in our society who it was acceptable to strike in certain circumstances. We don’t allow the physical punishment of adults or animals, so it is absurd that we have for so long with children.”

The law was voted in by Welsh Parliament two years ago, with members voting 36 votes to 14 at the time.