Par­ents ‘must be ed­u­cated’ on Scot­land’s smack­ing ban

● Land­mark leg­is­la­tion passed with calls for ma­jor pub­lic aware­ness drive

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By SCOTT MACNAB Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

Le­gal ex­perts have called for a na­tion­wide “pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion” cam­paign to guard against par­ents be­ing crim­i­nalised un­der new laws passed by MSPS mak­ing Scot­land the first part of the UK to ban the smack­ing of chil­dren.

The law so­ci­ety of scot­land warned it will take more than new leg­is­la­tion to bring about “be­havioural change” among par­ents af­ter MSPS over­whelm­ingly voted in favour of the move at Holy­rood yes­ter­day.

The Scot­tish Govern­ment last night pledged to lead a pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign along with po­lice and so­cial work chiefs.

Green MSP John Fin­nie, who brought for­ward the law change in a mem­ber’s bill, hailed last night’s vote as “his­toric and coura­geous”.

But op­po­nents in­sist that move will crim­i­nalise par­ents and marks greater state in­tru­sion into fam­ily life.

The Chil­dren (Equal Pro­tec­tion from As­sault) (Scot­land) Act re­moves the de­fence of “rea­son­able chas­tise­ment” in Scots law, which al­lows par­ents to use phys­i­cal pun­ish­ment on chil­dren.

Morag Driscoll, the Law So­ci­ety of Scot­land’s Fam­ily Law Com­mit­tee con­vener, said the leg­is­la­tion brings Scot­land in line with com­mit­ments un­der the UN Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child.

But she said: “Driv­ing mean­ing­ful be­havioural change re­quires much more than chang­ing the law. The Scot­tish Govern­ment now needs to launch a com­pre­hen­sive pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness cam­paign to alert peo­ple to these changes.”

The move brings Scot­land into line with many other coun­tries around Europe where a ban has been in place for years and was wel­comed by chil­dren’s cam­paign­ers.

“This is a defin­ing mo­ment for Scot­land,” said Mary Glas­gow of Chil­dren’s First.

“Again and again, peo­ple have told

us about the life­long im­pact of be­ing hit as a child, as they’ve joined the cam­paign to change the law. To­day’s vote pro­tects every fu­ture gen­er­a­tion of Scot­land’s chil­dren from any and all lev­els of phys­i­cal vi­o­lence.”

Polling ev­i­dence had in­di­cated that a ma­jor­ity of peo­ple were op­posed to a smack­ing ban be­ing im­ple­mented.

The Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tives were the only party at Holy­rood to op­pose the change last night, in­sist­ing it was badly drawn leg­is­la­tion which could leave par­ents fac­ing jail.

Tory chil­dren’s spokes­woman Liz Smith said: “There is an in­creased like­li­hood that we will have a crim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of par­ents. It may not be many, but there is that risk and that is why this bill has got so many flaws.”

Sup­port­ers of the ban staged demon­stra­tion out­side yes­ter­day as MSPS de­bated the change in­side.

Chil­dren’s min­is­ter Ma­ree Todd said: “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.”

Richard Frazer, con­vener of the Church of Scot­land’s Church and So­ci­ety Coun­cil, also backed the change, in­sist­ing it marks a “cul­tural shift in at­ti­tudes”.

He added: “How we treat, love, nur­ture and dis­ci­pline our chil­dren is at the heart of fam­ily life.

“It un­doubt­edly has pro­found and far-reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions for how our chil­dren will live, be­have and re­late to oth­ers in so­ci­ety as chil­dren and as adults.

“Now is the time to move on from the idea that vi­o­lence against chil­dren can be jus­ti­fied.”

Pro­fes­sor Steve Turner, of the Royal Col­lege of Pae­di­atrics and Child Health, said: “It is not legally jus­ti­fi­able to use vi­o­lence against adults, it will not be for chil­dren ei­ther.”

0 Sup­port­ers held a rally yes­ter­day out­side the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment to back the Chil­dren (Equal Pro­tec­tion from As­sault) (Scot­land) Bill

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