Scottish children to be protected from physical punishment

RCPCH Officer for Scotland "very much welcomes" the bill which is being published at Holyrood this week.

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Scotland Bill was lodged by Green MSP John Finnie and has been backed by the Scottish Government.

Adopting a ban would make Scotland the first part of the UK to outlaw the physical punishment of children, with parents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently allowed to use "reasonable chastisement". However, politicians in Wales are considering whether to bring in similar legislation.

As the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Scotland Bill is lodged in the Scottish Parliament, Professor Steve Turner, Officer for Scotland for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said:

“I strongly believe it not acceptable to hit a child. Physical punishment can teach a child that physical violence is part of a normal healthy lifestyle.  It can increase the likelihood of that child going on to be aggressive in later life themselves, leading to a vicious cycle of physical violence, bred through generations. Physical punishment is also linked to an increase in a child’s later risk for anxiety, depression and problems with self-esteem.

"As a children’s doctor, there is nothing I want more than for children to be protected, as adults currently are, from assault. Physical punishment is counterproductive and cruel so the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Bill is very much welcome. With this bill, we have the opportunity to be leaders in child protection, and to show our children the respect they deserve. I now call on our neighbours in England and Northern Ireland to catch up, follow Scotland’s lead - the Welsh Government has committed to do likewise - and provide all children, regardless of where they live in the UK, with the same level of protection.”