Welsh Government's Consultation on Legislative
Proposal to Remove the Defence of Reasonable Punishment.
1. Do you think our legislative proposal to remove the
defence of reasonable punishment and prevent the use of corporal
punishment will help achieve our stated aim of protecting
If no, why not? The Welsh Government has a tendency to
propose eye-catching legislation of unconvincing need and dubious
efficacy - smoking in cars and organ donation are two such
examples. Now comes 'reasonable punishment'. There are
already legal prohibitions on child abuse, bodily harm, assault
and so on. The key outcome of this proposed legislation
would stop loving parents giving infrequent, mild smack to their
children with the intent of ensuring their obedience, safety and
care. We smacked our children, but never in anger.
Under the guise of 'children's rights' such good parenting would
in future be criminalised and the parents subjected to prosecution
- that is an ideological step too far.
2. In addition to our existing parenting support and
information campaign are there any other support mechanisms you
think we should put in place to support parents, carers and
If yes, what are they? It is beyond cavil that parents
should be free to bring up their children according to their own
understanding and ethical stance - it is their responsibility and
delight, and they are the best placed to do so. Government
must resist becoming the nanny state and interfering.
However, there are some occasions where assistance is beneficial,
particularly in the early days of family life. Where the
wider family is absent or community contacts are minimal, the
provision of social clubs, clinics and so on can be advantageous. But none of these should override the parents’ choices in child raising.
What types of actions/behaviours would you consider to be “corporal punishment”?
The vast majority of parents understand what is 'reasonable
chastisement' and what is excessive punishment. They use
different styles of parenting and that is their prerogative.
Opponents of smacking must resist their subjective tendency to
conflate this with beating or thrashing or thumping or
battery. Mild correction, whether vocal or physical, are
effective means for good parenting.
4. Do you agree with our understanding of potential
impacts on public bodies in Wales arising from the legislative
If not, why not? The Welsh Government's aim to encourage
positive parenting that is warm, supportive and so forth is
commendable. However, it is naive to believe that removing
the lawful defence of reasonable chastisement will 'ensure that
all children in Wales are given the chance to thrive and fulfil
their potential.' In addition, social services, the police,
teachers and public servants are likely to be overrun by demands
to investigate trivial complaints.
5. Is there additional guidance or training required to
support frontline professionals?
If yes please provide further details. Probably, public
servants and others will need help in differentiating between
'reasonable chastisement' and excessive punishment, whether it is
vocal or physical - the line is extremely thin and therefore prone
to damaging mismanagement.
6. Please explain how you believe the proposed policy
could be formulated or changed so as to have:(a) Positive
effects or increased positive effects on opportunities for
people to use the Welsh language and on treating the Welsh
language no less favourably than the English language and(b) No
adverse effects on opportunities for people to use the Welsh
language and on treating the Welsh language no less favourably
than the English language.
7. We have asked a number of specific questions. If you
have any issues related to this consultation which we have not
specifically addressed, please use this space to report them.
There is much to agree with in this Consultation - we all aspire
to positive parenting and better family life. Yet children
need boundaries - how these are assessed and achieved is
debatable. Reasonable smacking is one such proven method,
indeed, there is no evidence-based research to suggest that
reasonable smacking is ever counterproductive. The defence
in law should not be removed.
Dr John R. Ling,
27 March 2018.