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Physical punishment of children - current law

Section 51 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 prohibits the following forms of physical punishment of children:

  • a blow to the head
  • shaking
  • punishing with an implement.

In addition, section 51 provides that "where a person claims that something done to a child was a physical punishment carried out in exercise of a parental right or of a right derived from having charge or care of the child, then in determining any question as to whether what was done was, by virtue of being in such exercise, a justifiable assault a court must have regard to the following factors—

(a) the nature of what was done, the reason for it and the circumstances in which it took place;

(b) its duration and frequency;

(c) any effect (whether physical or mental) which it has been shown to have had on the child;

(d) the child’s age; and

(e) the child’s personal characteristics (including, without prejudice to the generality of this paragraph, sex and state of health) at the time the thing was done."