Views sought on proposed Scottish smacking ban

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Child being hitImage source, Getty Images

A proposed Scottish ban on the physical punishment of children is being put out to consultation.

A committee of MSPs is asking for the public's views on whether smacking children should become illegal.

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill has been introduced by Green MSP John Finnie.

The Scottish parliament's equalities and human rights committee wants to know what people think about the bill, which is backed by the government.

It would remove the defence of "justifiable assault" in Scots law, which allows parents to use physical punishment on children.

A public consultation on the issue last year received more than 650 responses, with about 75% being in favour of the ban.

The Scottish Police Federation, Barnardo's Scotland, the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland and the NSPCC back outlawing smacking.

But the campaign group Be Reasonable Scotland, supported by the Christian Institute and the Family Education Trust, argues a ban will "criminalise parents".

The committee's convener, Ruth Maguire, said: "This Bill has aroused strong views. There are passionately held beliefs on both sides of this argument, from those who think that physical punishment violates a child's human rights, to those who feel parents should have a right to smack their children.

"As the proposed law starts making its way through the Parliamentary process, we are keen to hear from people in Scotland who have a view on this subject.

"This will help us as we carry out our role as parliamentarians and inform our consideration of the proposals."

A spokesman for Be Reasonable Scotland said: "More than 140 countries around the world continue to respect parents' freedom, and responsibility, to discipline their children appropriately.

"This Bill could see them in the dock for simply tapping their kids on the back of the hand or pulling them away from the side of the road."

He added: "Children rightly enjoy strong protections from assault. It is highly irresponsible and deeply misleading to suggest otherwise."

The consultation closes on January 25.