NSPCC Cymru Speak About Assault Laws

The leading children’s charity will give evidence at the Senedd today.

PLANNED Welsh Government reforms to assault laws in Wales will finally make it clear to parents and carers that hitting children is unacceptable, NSPCC Cymru/Wales will say later today (Thursday 2 May).

The leading children’s charity will give evidence to the Children, Young People and Education committee at the Senedd in which it will firmly support the reforms to the law contained in the new Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill.

Currently children in Wales do not receive the same protection against common assault as adults. Parents or carers accused of assault against a child can use a common-law defence of “reasonable punishment” if they appear in court.  

The bill aims to abolish the reasonable punishment defence. 

NSPCC Cymru/Wales has long campaigned for children to have the same protection as adults under assault law and supports this legislative reform – giving Welsh children the same rights as adults under assault law – that will bring clarity for parents, carers and the professionals who work with them.

Viv Laing, NSPCC Cymru policy and public affairs manager, is giving evidence at the Senedd today.

She said: “It’s wrong that children in Wales have less protection from assault and that a legal defence which does not exist when an adult is hit can be used to justify striking a child.

"Physical punishment was rightly prohibited in schools many years ago and more recently in early years and care settings. This change is the next logical step.

“We do not believe it is right that the youngest and smallest members of our society should have less protection from the law than adults. We see this as a common-sense move – it is about protecting children as well as fairness and equality.”

Closing this legal loophole it will bring Wales in line with more than 50 other countries, around the world including most European countries, which already afford children equal protection under assault law.

Viv Laing added:

“The changes to the law will give parents clarity on physical punishment at long last. For many years the weight of evidence has said that punishing children by hitting them does not benefit them, but the law – in contrast – suggested it was acceptable.

“This was always a confusing situation for parents and the Welsh Government’s plans rectify that.”

The bill is currently being scrutinised by the National Assembly for Wales and a public consultation on the measures is open until 14 May.

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