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Community / New legislation to protect children from physical punishment a ‘positive step forward’

THE CHAIR of Shetland’s public protection committee has welcomed new legislation due to come into force next week in Scotland which will make all forms of physical punishment of children against the law.

This will include hitting, smacking, spanking and slapping.

Under current laws, parents may be prosecuted with assault if they physically punish or discipline their child, but they may be able to use the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ depending on the circumstances.

A new law on giving children equal protection from assault, however, will come into force on 7 November and it will remove the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’.

This means that children will have the same legal protection from assault as adults.

The act does not introduce a new offence – it removes a defence to the existing offence of assault.

Chair of the Shetland Public Protection Committee Tam Baillie said: “I welcome this important new legislation, which is a positive step forward for children’s rights in Scotland.

“The evidence clearly points to physical violence damaging children and it can lead to child abuse.

“Children now have the same right as adults not to be assaulted and Scotland is the first country in the UK to pass such legislation.

“The impact of legislation in other countries has been positive and these countries have usually seen a decrease in the use of physical violence against children and an increase in safety and protection.”

If you see someone physically punishing their child you can call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed.

People can also contact their local council if they are concerned about harm to a child from physical punishment.