Julie Morgan MS, Deputy Minister for Social Services
One year on from the historic law change to end the physical punishment of children, a number of dedicated parenting support packages across Wales are helping to strengthen positive changes to family life and raise awareness of the new legislation.
The law, which protects children and their rights, came into force on 21 March 2022 and provides children in Wales with the same protection from assault as adults. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the basis for the Welsh Government’s policy on children and prohibiting the physical punishment of children is in accordance with article 19 of the UNCRC – the right to protection from all forms of violence. Wales joined more than 60 nations across the world, which have outlawed physical punishment towards children.
Recently published research provides a snapshot of views from early 2022, just before the law came into force. It shows 71% of parents/carers of children aged seven and under disagreed that it was sometimes necessary to smack a child compared to 63% surveyed in 2021.
The report also found that since 2018, there had been an increase in the level of awareness and support for the law, with 59% of respondents reporting they were in favour of the law change compared to 38% in 2018.
Eligible parents/carers who are found to have broken the law are being given help by parenting professionals as part of an out-of-court parenting support scheme. The scheme, which is funded by the Welsh Government, helps the parents to avoid re-offending. During the six months following the Act coming into force, there were 55 referrals for out-of-court parenting support by the police.
Those working with parents have hailed the new legislation for the clarity it has provided compared to what was previously a grey area regarding the physical punishment of children.
The new legislation has been invaluable in bringing the impact of physical punishment to the fore and the additional resources provided to local authorities for bespoke parenting support has also been welcomed.
Parenting is not always easy. Our focus has been, and continues to be, on positive parenting. Our Parenting. Give it time campaign is a great place for parents to start.
I am pleased to see the support we’re offering to parents is making a difference. In every year which passes, more children and families will see the benefit of the legislation and the support it gives to children’s rights in Wales.
There is no place for physical punishment in Wales.