In 1979, Sweden became the first country to ban the physical punishment of children. While many countries have outlawed corporal punishment so it’s no longer permissible as a form of discipline in schools, not as many have enacted laws that would make it illegal for parents to spank their children as a form of discipline in their home. Scotland has just become the first country in the United Kingdom (UK) to do just that.
The bill passed Scottish Parliament with an 84 to 29 vote. According to the BBC, “The bill will end the defence of reasonable chastisement, meaning parents could face prosecution for any use of physical punishment on their children. This will give children the exact same protection from assault as adults.” The bill utilized the same guidelines for physical punishment that are outlined by the United Nations Committee on Rights of a Child.
Proponents of the law say it’s a step in the right direction and point to research that indicates physical discipline like spanking is not an effective form of discipline and can lead to increased violence within the home.
Opponents of the new law fear it does nothing to further help children experiencing physical abuse and could lead to traumatic interventions with families that aren’t physically abusive, but may now be in violation of the new law because of spanking.
The new Scottish law is the first of its kind in the UK. Fifty-three other countries have similar laws.