South Scotland

Scottish Borders Council agrees to back smacking ban

Smack Image copyright Getty Images

Members of Scottish Borders Council have agreed in principle to support moves by a Green MSP to outlaw the smacking of children.

The full council agreed by 19 votes to eight to welcome Green MSP John Finnie's proposals.

The support motion was proposed by SNP councillor Helen Laing, who represents East Berwickshire.

She said it was not "demonising" parents but rather showing there were better ways to discipline children.

"The enforcement is an issue but it has been implemented in many other countries and I think there will be lessons to be learned from other countries about how it has been implemented," she said.

"That will be the detail that will come out in the bill which we expect will come before Parliament.

"Hopefully this bill will raise awareness and change attitudes and change the culture.

"It is not looking at criminalising parents, it is not about us standing in judgment."

Under Scots law, parents can claim a defence of "justifiable assault" when punishing their child.

However, section 51 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 prohibits the use of an "implement" in the punishment.

It also bans parents from shaking their child or striking them on the head.

Mr Finnie has said there was "clear evidence" that the use of physical punishment was detrimental to a child's long-term health and wellbeing.

Consultation on his proposals ahead of a proposed member's bill in the Scottish Parliament closed earlier this year.

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