From next month, the Children (Equal Protection) Act will become law making it illegal for parents to physically discipline their children. Currently, parents and carers are allowed to use “reasonable” physical force in order to discipline their kids.
But the new laws, being introduced on November 7th, will remove the “reasonable chastisement” defence.
The legislation, SNP ministers say, will give children the same protection from assault as adults – banning parents smacking, skelping, slapping and pinching their children.
Government guidance on October 12th advised members of the public “call 999 to report a crime in progress”.
But, this guidance has now been changed following a backlash from opposition parties about the new legislation.
It now states that people should only call 999 if they think a “child or young person is in immediate danger”.
A spokesman for the Be Reasonable Scotland campaign, a group consisting of a group of parents, academics, and politicians warned the SNP governments’ “mask had slipped”.
He said: “Red-faced government officials have quietly tweaked advice on the gov.scot site after a wide backlash.
“Perhaps they realised that people in Scotland are not on-board with the idea that ordinary, loving parents should be reported to the police via a 999 call for tapping a child on the bum.
“Unfortunately, it’s too little too late.
“A raft of guidance has already been sent to professionals across Scotland with exactly the same phrasing.
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“The risk is that this slapdash approach to law, and how it works in practice, will lead to confusion for families, the public and even the police.
“With days to go before the new law comes in, the SNP need to get a grip on this and let parents know where they stand.”
Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie put forward the Bill in 2017 which has been backed by the SNP and Children’s Minister Maree Todd.
Mr Finnie, a former police officer argues that “physical violence has no place in 21st century Scotland”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said, however, they did not expect a large number of prosecutions from the legislation.
They said: “This important legislation gives children the same legal protections as adults – something backed by an overwhelming majority of public opinion.
“The objective of the guidance is to provide information and advice about the Act, and to support families and children with resources such as Parent Club.
“Based on experience from elsewhere, we do not expect a large number of prosecutions.”