Should Parents Be Allowed to Hit Their Kids? Welsh Government Says No

The government of Wales this week began a 12-week feedback process questioning parents about their beliefs on corporal punishment. The practice is still legal in the country but the government is hoping that Wales will join 52 other countries that have banned the use of disciplining children at home using spanking.

The Welsh Minister for children and social care, Huw Irranca-Davies, has launched this project as one part of a bigger package of measures intended to help parents and give young people the best possible start in life.

“The Welsh government is now intending to bring forward legislation to make it clear that physically punishing a child is no longer acceptable in Wales,” said Irranca-Davies.

“The proposed legislation….would mean any adult looking after a child would no longer be able to use physical or corporal punishment against them.”

Currently in the U.K., a parent or caregiver can smack a child where it is “reasonable chastisement.” Such punishment is considered “unreasonable,” however if the young person is hit with a cane or some other implement or if it leaves the child with a visible mark.

This could soon change; the Scottish government has already announced that it will shortly introduce a ban on physical punishment for children, and now it looks like Wales might soon follow suit.

That would leave England and Northern Ireland as the two U.K. countries where it’s still legal for parents to hit their kids.

In fact, the U.K. is one of only four countries in Europe where hitting children is still legal. The other three are Italy, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.

A total of 52 countries around the world have laws in place to protect children from corporal punishment, meaning young people have the same protection from physical assault as do adults.

In 1979 Sweden became the first country to make it illegal to hit a child, whether at home or at school. Ireland was the most recent country to join the list, outlawing any physical punishment toward children in 2015.

In the U.S. corporal punishment for children is still legal in all 50 states. The details of statutes vary between the states but in general the hitting must be reasonable and not excessive. The state of Delaware passed a law making it illegal to cause any injury or pain in the course of doling out physical punishment. 

It’s hard to imagine how such punishment would not cause both physical and emotional pain.

Shockingly, while corporal punishment has been banned in all European schools for many years, the U.S. lags far behind. Nineteen states, mostly in the south, still allow corporal punishment  in schools. 

As the Welsh study gets underway, there are those parents who feel the government is trying to micro-manage their lives. “Be Reasonable” is the name of one group that has launched a campaign against this proposed change; They are accusing politicians of seeking to criminalize parents who are  disciplining their kids.

But the group “Children Are Unbeatable!” makes the point that “Children are now the only group in our society that can be legally hit or hurt. Pets have more protection.”

Others point out that it’s impossible and undesirable to monitor all parents all the time, which of course is true. However, this argument misses the point that the government wants to make parents and caregivers aware that physical punishment often has long-term negative effects, creating a cycle of violence, that it can seriously impact a child’s chances in life and that it is in any case an ineffective punishment.

As a teacher, I work to have each of my students learn to take responsibility for herself. Children who are punished physically don’t learn self-discipline. On the contrary, the more they are punished for their inability to control themselves, the less self-control they have. Their reliance on being directed by outside forces means they don’t internalize that control and have no inner integrity. 

Here’s how the Welsh government explains their goal, “We want parents in Wales to be confident in managing their children’s behavior without feeling they must resort to physical punishment. If there is any potential risk of harm to a child then it is our obligation as a government to take action.”

No, children should not be subjected to physical punishment and yes, it’s fine for the government to step forward and protect young people.

Photo Credit: binu kumar

94 comments

Marie W
Marie W5 months ago

thanks for sharing

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KimJ M
KimJ M8 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M8 months ago

Tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M8 months ago

Tfs

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Elizabeth M
Past Member 10 months ago

Yes.

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Paulo R
Paulo R10 months ago

no, ty

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Paulo R
Paulo R10 months ago

no, ty

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Amanda M
Amanda M10 months ago

My sister and I were spanked as children, and it was clear that that was a last resort when we pushed Mom and Dad too far. A simple swat on the butt is NOT abuse-it is an ATTENTION-GETTER. Time-outs? Phooey. Kids don't listen to that, especially if it is a time-out in their rooms. Heck, when I was a kid, I'd have LOVED that kind of time-out because it meant I could get away from my pesky little sister for a brief period! (And when you grow up in a neighborhood where the only kid close to your age is your kid sister and the two of you only get along one day out of ten, you get on each other's nerves REAL fast!) And yes, I spanked my kids when they got out of line, but that was in their pre-grade school years. Once they hit 7 or so, they got sent to their rooms instead for one minute per year old they were. Ooh, they HATE that, especially when we double the time for talking back or whatever! And we also ground them when they screw up or don't do their chores such as cleaning up their room, which means yanking TV and computer privileges until the job is done. Snark all you want about how I don't help them with their rooms, but at 10 and 15 they are old enough to pick up their own damn rooms! I am burned out on housework enough as it is, and they won't learn if they don't do it themselves! Now, if more people in this world actually woke up and realized that the word "parent" is not just a noun but also a VERB, then the world would be a

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JT S
Past Member 11 months ago

What I was trying to convey in my first comment is the concept of having to slap a completely hysterical (not meaning funny) person to bring them back to reality.

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JT S
Past Member 11 months ago

Most of the people who are against spankings (outside the bedroom) are the ones who as children couldn't learn how to behave properly and had to face the consequences constantly.

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