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Proposed Changes to the Law on Physical Punishment

Children (Equal Protection From Assault) (Scotland) Bill

This Bill was put forward by an individual member of the Scottish Parliament, John Finnie MSP.  Mr Finnie held a public consultation on his proposals and has published a summary of consultation responses.

Under the current law, if parents and those looking after children use physical punishment, they can raise a defence against a charge of assault, claiming that what they did was “reasonable chastisement” and therefore not an offence.  This means that certain forms of physical punishment are currently not against the law.

The Scottish Government understands that Mr Finnie’s Bill does not introduce a new criminal offence.  Instead, it removes the defence available to parents and others.  They could therefore no longer claim that a physical punishment of their child was a “reasonable chastisement”.

A number of other countries, including New Zealand and the Republic of Ireland, have already passed similar legislation.

Implementation Group

The Scottish Government has set up an Implementation Group with representatives from stakeholders and professional groups to discuss the actions needed if the Bill were passed. We intend to publish the agenda and minutes of these meetings.

Minutes of the meeting of 7 August 2018

Minutes of the meeting of 28 January 2019