AMs should listen to their constituents

Western Mail, 10 Sep 2019

ON Tuesday September 17 Assembly members will debate the Welsh Government’s Bill to criminalise smacking. It is vitally important that AMs first hear the views of their constituents.

I can understand why some may want to support a smacking ban because on the surface it could be seen to be in children’s best interests. But let’s look at this more closely and please, just for once, try to rise above party politics as we do so.

I would make the case for such legislation being totally unnecessary, and far from doing any good, would create many problems:

There is already adequate provision under present law to protect children from abuse; and every parent knows there is a world of difference between the occasional corrective smack and child abuse.

What is proposed will undoubtedly lead to good loving parents being labelled as child abusers and with a criminal record. Hardly surprising then that 76% of Welsh adults are against this happening, with only 11% in favour. (ComRes poll) Those figures alone should be enough to put the lid on this Bill.

But to continue; it would greatly increase the workload of social workers and police who would be obliged to investigate every case of smacking. Undoubtedly they would be diverted from far more urgent cases, including cases of real child abuse.

Such a ban would prove extremely costly for local authorities at a time when their budgets are already stretched to the limit.

It is not the role of government to enforce its opinions about child discipline, and what is proposed represents further unwarranted intrusion by the State into family life.

I think it is quite clear to see that this is a deplorable Bill with nothing at all to commend it.

RH Ashton,