Welsh Assembly Votes to Punish Parents

The majority of Members of the Welsh Assembly who have just voted in favour of the smacking ban have been described as choosing to “vote to punish parents”.

This was the reaction by Janet Finch-Saunders AM, Shadow Welsh Minister for Social Care, Children and Young People, following the final debate on the Children (Abolition of the Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill, which is now set to become law.

During the debate she stated that:

“The State is now stepping into the private lives of families… Exposing parents to criminal liability for smacking their children should be the last resort of a Government not the first”

Alternatives could have included making reasonable chastisement a civil offence.  However, it is now the case that if convicted, parents and families could end up with permanent criminal records, harming employment chances, and potential separation could be the end result.

It was noted in Committee that senior officers in Wales have warned a smacking ban could mean children are removed from their family.

She continued:

“Members have voted to punish parents today.

“This is a major smack in the face of the majority in Wales who are against the ban.

“Our survey found that 79 percent of respondents were against the ban. YouGov found 69 percent thinking that smacking should not be banned, and I continue to be inundated with messages of support from parents opposed to this punitive reckless policy”.

During the debate the Member highlighted the letter sent today by the Chair of the Finance Committee to the Welsh Government which clearly states the Committee’s concern at the fact that the total cost of the Bill has increased from a range of between £2.3m - £3.7m to £6.2m - £7.9m.

The Member added:

“The change in law is set to hit every single tax payer as it has been passed without knowing the full costs.

“If my fears of increased pressure on over-stretched social services, an increase of children in looked-after care, and harm to family homes come true, you can be sure that the electorate and I will hold the Welsh Government to account”