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In the UK, a First on Child Discipline

Scotland bans smacking children
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 4, 2019 8:52 AM CDT
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Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Nadezhda1906)

(Newser) – In Scotland, adults are more protected against assault than children are, as parents and caregivers are allowed to use "reasonable" physical force for disciplinary purposes. That's about to change: On Thursday, the country's Parliament voted 84-29 to ban all physical punishment for kids, including spanking, slapping, smacking, pinching, biting, and pulling hair, making it the first UK country to do so, the BBC reports. Scottish Green Party MP John Finnie, who introduced the bill, calls it "an important step forward for children's rights in Scotland" that negates the belief that "might makes right."

Critics had said current laws afforded enough protections for kids—one could only smack a child on the body, not on the head, and shaking or using any kind of tool during the punishment was prohibited—and that this new legislation could end up getting "good parents" in trouble for using "reasonable chastisement." Finnie, however, says it was a needed move. Now Scotland "can say with some justification that it's the best place for a child to be brought up," he told the British Press Association, per USA Today. Wales is close to instituting a similar ban. The first country in the world to put the smackdown on kid-smacking: Sweden, in 1979. (Read more Scotland stories.)

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