Law Society Backs Scots Smacking Ban

7 August 2017, 16:19 | Updated: 7 August 2017, 16:20


The Law Society of Scotland has backed a proposed ban on smacking children.

The society said the current law "signals that some forms of assault against children are acceptable" as parents hitting their children can use the defence of reasonable chastisement.

Green MSP John Finnie plans to introduce a Member's Bill to amend the law to outlaw smacking children.

In a submission to the Scottish Parliament consultation on the issue, the society said the proposed change would give children and adults equal legal protection from assault.

Ian Cruickshank, convener of the law society's Criminal Law Committee, said: "There has been a change in culture over the years and physical chastisement of children is increasingly understood to be both ineffective and out of step with our understanding of children's rights.

"These proposals seek to provide clarity in the law and to clearly define the limits of acceptable behaviour which would be applicable to all, regardless of age.

"If the law is changed in line with the proposed Bill, it would set clear boundaries as to what is acceptable when it comes to the physical punishment of children."

The organisation has also said the proposed Bill would help to bring Scotland in line with its international obligations.

Morag Driscoll, the law society's Family Law Committee convener, said: "The international legal community is clear that corporal punishment is not in keeping with the present day understanding of human rights. Physical punishment of children is now unlawful in 52 countries around the world, including the vast majority of those in the European Union.

"Scots Law has been criticised by international organisations because, although most forms of physical force used against a child are unlawful, it has not gone so far as to make all forms of physical force against children unlawful.

"By retaining the common law defence of reasonable chastisement, the law in Scotland signals that some forms of assault against children are acceptable."

Last month Scotland's new Commissioner for Children and Young People, Bruce Adamson, said the country's position on smacking children is "untenable in international human rights terms".