Nursing union leaders and nurse academics in Wales have expressed their support for a new bill that is seeking to ban the smacking of children.
The bill was introduced into the National Assembly for Wales this week and, if passed, will see the end of “reasonable punishment” being allowed to be used as a defence for hitting a child. It follows similar moves in Scotland.
“It as positive step in the protection of children from physical chastisement”
The change would give children in Wales the same legal protection from physical punishment as adults.
It has been supported by the Royal College of Nursing, which is a member of the Children are Unbeatable! Alliance (CUA).
Helen Whyley, director of the RCN in Wales, said the union welcomed the “introductory legislation”.
Source: RCN Wales
“In the past, parents have always received mixed messages about disciplining children,” she said. “Discipline and physical punishment are not the same thing.”
Ms Whyley noted that school nurses, health visitors and children’s nurses were best placed to advise parents about managing their children’s behaviour.
Michelle Moseley, lecturer in primary care and public health nursing at Cardiff University and winner of the RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year Safeguarding Award 2018, said the bill had been a “long time coming”.
She stated that the physical punishment of children was “not okay”. “Being subjected to a smack or hit causes distress and if this occurs frequently can have a detrimental effect on the development of children both emotionally and physically,” she said.
“This very much is supported by the work around adverse childhood experiences,” she said. “I welcome the bill and see it as positive step in the protection of children from physical chastisement.”
Ms Moseley added that the introduction of the bill was an opportunity to educate parents and carers on the issue.
The Children (Abolition of the Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill was introduced by deputy health minister Julie Morgan on Monday and will now be subject to scrutiny by assembly members.