`

Should smacking your children be banned?

Huw Irranca-Davies Minister for Children and Social Care in Wales with a group of children.
Huw Irranca-Davies Minister for Children and Social Care in Wales with a group of children.

The physical punishment of children is already banned in Scotland - and now those living in Wales are being asked to share their views with their government.

The Welsh government plans to remove the defence of reasonable punishment to the offences of battery and assault - and, if implemented, the ban would makes Wales the second area of the UK to end the physical punishment of children, behind Scotland.

The Scottish Government announced it plans to remove the defence of "justifiable assault" in Scots law, which allows parents to use physical punishment to admonish a child.

A 12-week consultation has been launched in Wales today - and the minister for children and social care, Huw Irranca-Davies, said the ban would be part of a wider package of measures to support children to have the best start in life.

"We want parents in Wales to be confident in managing their children's behaviour without feeling they must resort to physical punishment," he said.

"If there is any potential risk of harm to a child then it is our obligation as a government to take action.

"Legislation was introduced many years ago to stop physical punishment in schools and childcare settings - now is the time to ensure it is no longer acceptable anywhere."

Mr Irranca-Davies said he was aware there were differing views on the legislation and that the consultation, which closes on April 2 2018, would provide everyone an opportunity to have their say.

The proposed legislation would not result in the creation of a new offence but would instead remove a defence to the existing offences of assault and battery, meaning an adult looking after a child would no longer be able to use physical or corporal punishment against them.

Mr Irranca-Davies added: "As a parent of three boys myself, I know being a parent can sometimes be a challenging experience.

"Children do not come with an instruction manual and sometimes parents need guidance and support to help them raise healthy and happy children."

He said it was now known that physical punishment could have "negative long-term impacts on a child's life chances" and was an "ineffective punishment".