MSPs to vote on smacking ban

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Smacking children could be made illegal in Scotland today if MSPs vote to change the law to ban their physical punishment.

The smacking ban is set to be voted on by the Scottish Parliament and would give children the same protection from violence as adults by removing the defence of justifiable assault in Scots law.

The Bill, introduced by Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie, faces its final vote on Wednesday, with the former police officer calling for cross-party support for the “vital legal protections for Scotland’s children”.

Removing a parent’s right to hit their child would bring Scotland up to international standards, Mr Finnie has argued, adding: “Physical punishment has no place in 21st century”.

Ahead of the vote, Mr Finnie MSP said: “This evening the Scottish Parliament has the opportunity to show courageous leadership by putting in place vital legal protections for Scotland’s children.

“It is staggering that our smallest and most vulnerable citizens are the only people who do not currently have this protection, and now is the time to rectify that.

“Physical punishment has no place in 21st century Scotland.

“The international evidence tells us that it can have serious adverse impacts on children, and that it is not effective.

“It is time for parliament to put an end to it tonight.”

When the Bill passed the first stage towards becoming law, having been approved by 80 votes to 29, Mr Finnie compared the legislation to other law changes such as the smoking ban and drink-driving rules which aimed to inspire widespread social change.

However, opponents of the Bill have raised fears that it could criminalise thousands of parents for disciplining their children.

Jamie Gillies, from the campaign group Be Reasonable, said: “Seeking to further the protection of children is highly commendable, but a smacking ban is not the way to do it.

“The risks this proposal carries to family life, social work and the police mean it could end up doing far more harm than good.

“The Government should invest in current services, which are already hard-pressed, and bolster their ability to identify and tackle abuse.”

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