Academics for Equal Protection is an informal group of senior academics, living and working in Wales, who came together in 2014 to call for children and adults to have equal protection from physical assault. Group members believe that the research evidence on the negative impact of ‘smacking’ on children is strong enough to make the case for a change in the law compelling. The group is calling for the removal of section 58 of the Children Act 2004 which allows acts which are designed to correct children’s behaviour through the administration of pain, but which do not cause injury serious enough to warrant a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, to be defended as ‘reasonable punishment.’ This defence does not exist for assaults against adults. CASCADE academics are amongst the founder members of Academics for Equal Protection. The group includes members from several institutions, in health, law, psychology, and social sciences: Ian Butler; Fiona Brookman; Julie Doughty; Jonathan Evans; Donald Forrester; Simon Hoffman; Judy Hutchings; Alison Kemp; Sabine Maguire; Daniel Newman; Alison Perry; Emma Renold; Hayley Roberts; Amanda Robinson; Jonathan Scourfield; Katherine Shelton; June Statham; Chris Taylor; Nigel P Thomas; Stephanie Van Goozen; Elspeth Webb; Jane M Williams.
For more information on the group please contact Julie Doughty email@example.com
Equal Protection for children in Wales
There has been a long history of support in Wales for giving children equal protection, and we are pleased to see a new commitment by the Welsh Government. In June 2017 the First Minister announced that it will bring forward legislation in this Assembly term to remove the defence of reasonable punishment. Information from the Welsh Government is available here. [LINK: http://gov.wales/topics/people-and-communities/people/children-and-young-people/parenting-support-guidance/talk-parenting/information-for-parents/?lang=en ]
In Scotland, a three-month public consultation this year on removing the defence of “justifiable assault” of children from Scots law resulted in more than 650 responses from individuals and organisations, with almost 75 per cent of respondents supporting the bill. John Finnie MSP has introduced the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill to Parliament, with the backing of MSPs from all five parties. The Scottish Government has made a commitment to ensuring the successful passing of the Bill.
Professor Sally Holland, Wales’ Children’s Commissioner, is very active in the campaign. Sally focused her media work on Universal Children’s Day (20th November 2015) on calls for equal protection for children and she said that achieving equal protection for children will be a top priority in her seven year term. See coverage in Wales Online and in a video she published on Equal Protection.
The evidence shows the success of such changes in other countries. By September 2017, 53 countries had introduced legislation prohibiting all physical punishment of children. Sweden was the first – more than 36 years ago – and France is the most recent. In each of the countries with equal protection, the legislation was enacted ahead of public opinion, with governments showing strong leadership. In not one of those countries has the reform been reversed, even after a change of government. And in not one of those countries have concerns about ‘criminalisation of ordinary parents’, or increasing numbers of unruly children, been shown to have been valid once the law was in place.
Further information on the global situation can be found on the Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment of Children.
Links and Press Coverage
NEW: Welsh Government consultation on law reform:
It is against the law for a parent or carer to smack their child, except where this amounts to ‘reasonable punishment’. Welsh Government is currently consulting on the development of a legislative proposal to remove this defence.
You can see the consultation here. This closes on 2 April 2018.
More information is available on the Children’s Commissioner’s website.
Letter to the Western Mail April 30th 2014