Sarah Crawley, Director of Barnardo’s Cymru has issued a response to the passing of the Children (Ending the Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill
In a statement she said: “This is a significant landmark for a child’s right to legal protection from assault in Wales, finally bringing it in line with the protection afforded to adults.
“Barnardo’s Cymru is proud to have campaigned, alongside other children’s organisations, for this change since 2000. Today we’re delighted that, going forward, we will finally have clarity for parents, carers and all of us who work directly with children that physically punishing them benefits nobody, is no longer acceptable and will no longer be allowed under law.
“We are confident that, over time, this legislation will drive forward the cultural change in parenting that research shows us is already well underway. It is an important opportunity for the wellbeing of children and family relationships to improve as well as being an investment in the wellbeing of the next generation of parents and carers.
“The minority who have opposed this change say police and social services will be overwhelmed. That hasn’t been the view of the police and social work professionals themselves. Those opposed say this change will damage family life when all the research tells us the opposite – that physical punishment harms children. They say parents will be criminalised in great numbers when this isn’t the evidence from the myriad other countries where this change in the law has taken place
“Now is the right time for change because we, as a society, have changed. Research on parental attitudes to physical punishment in Wales shows that the majority of those surveyed don’t think it’s ever necessary to smack a child and almost 60% assumed it was already against the law to do so.
“The idea that light physical punishment can be deployed in a cool headed way to set boundaries and teach children bears little relationship with reality.
“Physical punishment is far more likely to happen when parents or carers are frustrated or upset and low levels used repeatedly have been shown to have a negative impact on children – dispensing with the myth that ‘it never did me any harm’ for which there is absolutely no guarantee.”