Be Reasonable responds as Welsh Govt consults on criminalising parents who smack their kids

Today, the Welsh Government launched a consultation on criminalising parents who smack their own children.

Be Reasonable spokesmum, Lowri Turner, gave the consultation a cautious welcome, commenting: “We welcome any genuine consultation, but we have been disappointed by the emotionally charged language used by those wanting to change the law.

“They try to make out that a gentle smack on the back of the legs from a loving mum is the same as beating up your kids – it is not.

“Forcing through this punitive legislation regardless of the opposition from Welsh families will merely criminalise ordinary parents.

“New Zealand outlawed smacking in 2007 and every year dozens of parents are investigated by police and sometimes prosecuted for using reasonable chastisement. Far-reaching action can also be taken by social services even where there is no prosecution.

“The law there is unpopular. In a 2009 referendum 87% of New Zealanders said smacking should not be a criminal offence. But their politicians ignored them.

“The Welsh Government have claimed banning smacking “isn’t about legislation to criminalise parents”. But removing the reasonable chastisement defence will do exactly that. If they insist on changing the law, how do they think they can avoid what is happening in New Zealand?

“There is clear opposition to these proposals in Wales. Our polling showed 85 per cent of Welsh adults were smacked as children, 76 per cent said it should not be criminal, and nearly 70 per cent agree it’s sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child.

“We urge families to take part in the consultation and we hope the Welsh Government will listen to the results and to the data which shows the public does not back this change.”

“The Government have failed to answer many other questions, such as why the law even needs changing. Over the last ten years how many times has reasonable chastisement successfully been used as a defence in Welsh courts? What will happen if the parent caught by this new law is a teacher, nurse or social worker – will they be barred from working?”