Two weeks ago, Wales became the second part of the UK to pass a law banning smacking of children, following similar legislation being introduced in Scotland.
The AEP have campaigned tirelessly for a ban on smacking to be introduced, and want to see this law protect children across Britain. The current law in England allows a defence of “reasonable punishment”, but as this relates to the intent rather than the impact, it is almost impossible to prove that this punishment is unreasonable.
In light of these developments, AEP General Secretary Kate Fallon had a letter published in the Sunday Telegraph, urging that the ban on physical punishment be introduced across the nation. The letter was signed by a number of high-profile individuals, including those from other trade unions and children’s charities.
Please see below a full transcript of the letter, and the signatories.
“Sir – It is time to ban the physical punishment of children. This week Wales introduced a ban on smacking, following similar legislation in Scotland. The children of England and Northern Ireland should be protected too.
Physical punishment can lead to a lower quality of the parent and child relationship, poorer mental health in childhood and adulthood, higher levels of aggression and anti-social behaviour and an increased risk of being a victim of physical abuse, as well as not being an effective strategy to bring about long-term improvements in children’s behaviour.
The current law allows a defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ but as this relates to the intent, rather than the effect of smacking, it is almost impossible to prove that punishment is unreasonable.
Smacking is outdated and we believe that there are many other more effective ways of teaching children to behave appropriately than by hitting them. Sixty countries have now banned smacking, and children in Wales and Scotland are now protected. It is time for a ban across the whole of the UK.
General Secretary – Association of Educational Psychologists “
John McGowan- General Secretary – Social Workers Union
Dr Vivian Hill - Chair of DECP - British Psychological Society
Professor Russell Viner - President – Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Sarah Hughes - CEO - Centre for Mental Health
Liz Bayram - Chief Executive – Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years
Louise King - Director - Children’s Rights Alliance for England, part of Just for Kids Law
Anna Feuchtwang - Chief Executive - National Children’s Bureau
Jon Richards - Head of Education – UNISON
Steve Thomas - National Secretary – Prospect Education and Children’s Services Group
Kathy Evans - Chief Executive – Children England
Emma Thomas - Chief Executive - YoungMinds
Professor Martin Marshall - Chair of Council - Royal College of General Practitioners
Julie Bentley - Chief Executive - Action for Children
Jo Hobbs - Chief Executive - British Youth Council