Three quarters of Scots opposed to smacking ban, campaigners say

Written by Jenni Davidson on 20 October 2017 in News

A ComRes opinion poll found that 74 per cent said smacking should not be criminalised

Child - Image credit: Stephan Hochhaus via Flickr

Three-quarters of Scots are opposed to the ban on smacking in Scotland, according to poll conducted on behalf of campaigners.

A ComRes opinion poll of 1,010 Scottish adults commissioned by the anti-smacking ban campaign group Be Reasonable Scotland found that 74 per cent of those asked said smacking should not be a criminal offence.

Seven in ten respondents agreed with the statement, ‘I support laws against child abuse, but smacking is not child abuse’, while 78 per cent expressed concern that the ban might lead to police and social services being overwhelmed with trivial cases that would affect their ability to deal with genuine abuse.

The research found that 85 per cent of Scots were smacked as children and 66 per cent said it was sometimes necessary to smack a child, while 75 per cent agreed that the ban would criminalise reasonable parents while doing little to stop abuse.


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The group has now called for full consultation ahead of any ban, since the consultation by Green MSP John Finnie on the bill was carried out over the summer before the ban had the backing of the Scottish Government.

In a statement, Be Reasonable Scotland said: “Criminalising parents for smacking their own children is a gross intrusion on family life by politicians who are totally out of touch with real people.

“It will overload police and social workers, making it even harder for them to find and help children who are being abused.

“It’s one thing to have an opinion about smacking. It’s another to criminalise those who parent differently from you.”

Be Reasonable urged people to contact their MSPs to oppose the bill, saying that with 80 per cent of Scots having been smacked as children, the “hysterical claims” by anti-smacking activists “don’t add up”.

Dr Ashley Frawley, a lecturer in public health, policy and social sciences at Swansea University, also warned about the potential impact on police and social services, which could “distract them from actual cases of abuse, with potentially terrible consequences”.

The Scottish Government announced yesterday that it would ensure that the legislation to remove the current defence of justifiable assault from Scots law, which will be brought to the Scottish Parliament as a member’s bill by Green MSP John Finnie, would be made law.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "Mr Finnie's proposals are not a Scottish Government bill. However, we will ensure the proposals become law.

"We believe physical punishment can have negative effects on children which can last long after the physical pain has died away.

“We support positive parenting through, for example, funding for family support services."

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