Wales politics

No place for smacking in society - children's commissioner

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Media captionDr Holland said children should have the right not to be hit by their parents

Smacking has no place in modern society, Wales' children's commissioner Sally Holland has said.

Dr Holland reiterated her call for a smacking ban in the wake of plans for parental discipline to be devolved to the assembly.

The move, if passed, would make it possible for AMs to pass to outlaw smacking in Wales.

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew Davies said parents should be able to bring up children in a manner "they see fit".

Welsh Labour has promised to seek cross-party support to end the defence of reasonable punishment.

New powers in the Wales Bill, due to be approved by the House of Lords on Tuesday, would clear up the assembly's power to change the law and introduce a ban by removing the defence.

Dr Holland told BBC Radio Wales' Jason Mohammad programme: "Most of us of a certain generation, including myself, were smacked as children.

"What I would say is it just doesn't have a place in modern civilised society.

"And I see this really as a human rights issue, because all we are trying to do is give children the same rights against being hit as adults have."

Image caption Dr Sally Holland said smacking is a "human rights issue"

Dr Holland said Wales had been "going around circles" debating the issue for years and hoped to see a ban in the next couple of years.

She added that she did not expect to see a wave of parents being criminalised - and that there would be a "high bar" for prosecutions when children had been persistently harmed.

AMs voted against a smacking ban in Wales in 2015.

Since then, the Children's Secretary Carl Sargeant said he hoped "to take forward, on a cross-party basis, legislation that will remove the defence of reasonable punishment".

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said: "The Welsh Conservatives assembly group has a free vote on this issue.

"Personally, I'm a big believer in families having the right to bring up their children and conduct their own affairs in a manner they see fit, without being unnecessarily criminalised by the government.

"However, we must keep in mind the need to protect the most vulnerable members of society from violent or psychological harm."

Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Wales, said: "Giving children the same protection against assault as adults would bring Wales in line with dozens of other countries that have already done the same."

He added: "While we would never want to criminalise loving parents, the NSPCC believes smacking is not an effective way of dealing with bad behaviour and the continued existence of this legal loophole flies in the face of the incredible progress made in boosting children's rights in recent years."

One man in Carmarthen told BBC Radio Wales the best way of disciplining children was to take things like iPads away from them.

A woman said smacking "in the right way" was a good thing.

"When I was young, if I did something wrong [and] then I had a smack, then I knew not to do it again," she added.

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