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by Gemma Fraser
03 October 2019
MSPs vote overwhelmingly to introduce smacking ban

MSPs vote overwhelmingly to introduce smacking ban

Scotland has become the first country in the UK to ban parents from smacking their children in a move which has been described as a “historic and courageous step”.

MSPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Equal Protection Bill – first introduced by Green MSP John Finnie – which gives children the same protection from assault as adults.

The smacking ban, as it is more commonly referred to, removes the existing defence of “reasonable chastisement” when it comes to the physical punishment of children.

Finnie said: “I am absolutely delighted that the Scottish Parliament has taken this historic and courageous step.

“The leadership shown by MSPs will send a strong message that violence is never acceptable in any setting, and that our children deserve at least the same legal protections that adults enjoy.

“Physical punishment has no place in 21st century Scotland. The international evidence tells us that it can have serious impacts on children, and that it is not effective.

“As I have progressed this campaign over the last three years, it has become clear just how many people believed that striking a child was already outlawed.

“I am extremely proud to have brought forward the legislation that will enhance children’s rights in Scotland and believe that today we have taken a huge step toward making Scotland the best country in the world for children to grow up in.”

The Scottish Conservatives submitted two amendments to the Bill, which were both defeated, and the ban was backed by 84 to 29 votes.

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “I’m very pleased that parliament has now voted to ensure that children, without exception, have the same protection from assault as adults.

“In removing an outdated provision that has no place in a modern Scotland, we are reaffirming we want this country to be the best place in the world for children to grow up so that they feel loved, safe, respected and can realise their full potential.  

“We will now work in partnership with organisations including children’s charities, Social Work Scotland and Police Scotland to raise awareness of the Bill and build on the existing support we offer to children and families.”

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "For years Scottish Liberal Democrats have demanded the so-called "justifiable assault" of children be brought to an end and we are delighted to back a Bill which achieves that goal.

“Today parliament has got one step closer to achieving our aim of being a human rights leader.

“I congratulate John Finnie on all his efforts. We have made quite clear that children should not have less right to protection from violence than adults living in the same household.

“Ministers must now speed up the incorporation of the full United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law.”

Scotland will become the 58th country in the world to ban smacking when the law comes into force.

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