Smacking to be banned in Jersey
SMACKING children is to be outlawed in Jersey after States Members overwhelmingly supported proposals to repeal an article within the Children’s Law that allows parents to use ‘reasonable corporal punishment’.
Deputy Mary Le Hegarat brought the proposition which brings Jersey in line with recommendations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Sweden became the first country to outlaw corporal punishment in 1979. Since then, a total of 53 countries have done so, with Scotland recently announcing plans to change their law in 2019.
The NSPCC backed Deputy Le Hegarat’s proposition and wrote to States Members asking them to support the move.
Her proposition was supported by 38 votes to three, with Senator Sarah Ferguson and Deputies Rowland Huelin and Gregory Guida being the only Members to vote against the proposal.
Deputy Le Hegarat said: ‘This proposition relates to smacking. The deliberate use of physical force, the causing of pain to the child as chastisement.
‘There is no evidence it is effective or deals with the route cause of [bad] behaviour. Smacking doesn’t work. It may force a child to comply in the short term, but it is not effective in preventing a behaviour being repeated.’
She also questioned why there were laws in place which prevented adults from striking other adults, but offered a defence for hitting a child.
The law allows a parent, a carer or someone with parental consent ‘any defence of reasonable corporal punishment of a child’.
Children’s Minister Sam Mézec said: ‘We don’t have a good history in our Island when it comes to looking after children.
‘It is right that we deal with this now.’
However, Senator Ferguson argued that the States should not be dictating how parents should look after their children.
‘Welcome to 1984,’ she said. ‘It is not the business of the state to dictate every aspect of life. Yes we should protect those being mistreated and abused, but to impose political correctness on the population as a whole is rubbish.
‘To most parents it is a question of discipline.’
Consultant social worker for NSPCC Jersey Katherine McGovern said the ultimate decision of the States was ‘common sense’ and brought the Island in line with more than 50 other counties.
She said: ‘Legislative amendments now need to be introduced to provide children in Jersey with the same level of protection by law against assault as adults. We’d recommend that a public education campaign is developed to ensure parents understand the change and support made available for parents to change their parenting styles.
‘NSPCC Jersey encourages parents to use positive parenting, where parents praise the good things children do as well as setting clear and consistent boundaries.’
Anyone with any concerns about the welfare of a child can call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, or visit nspcc.org.uk for advice. Children can call Childline on 0800 1111 or visit childline.org.uk.