“Scotland is out of step with Europe and the world”— Commissioner renews calls for #equalprotection of children

18 April 2017

The Commissioner has renewed calls for the Scottish Government to bring an end to legislation allowing a defence of justifiable assault against children.

His call for equal protection for children came in an interview with the Sunday Herald last weekend.

In the interview, the Commissioner said his greatest regret about his tenure was that this area had not seen legislative change.

He has previously been part of a wide coalition calling for a change in the law around justifiable assault.

His office has also co-published research on the impact of physical punishment on children.

The Commissioner has renewed calls for the Scottish Government to bring an end to legislation allowing a defence of justifiable assault for parents who hit their children.

His call for equal protection for children came in an interview with the Sunday Herald last weekend.

In the interview, the Commissioner said his greatest regret about his tenure was that this area had not seen legislative change.

The Commissioner has previously been part of a broad coalition calling for a change in the law around justifiable assault.

His office has also co-published research around the effects of physical punishment of children.

Seeking equal protection under Scots law

In many countries – including most of Europe – children have the same legal protections against violence as adults do.

This is not currently the case in Scotland.

The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 allows the defence of justifiable assult against children.

This exists where it is claimed an act against a child was a physical punishment carried out while exercising a parental right.

The Commissioner’s comments

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, the Commissioner said:

"We are now absolutely in the minority of countries in Europe on this.
“The Scottish Government have an ambition for Scotland to be the best country in the world to bring up children. How can we claim that as long as we maintain this tradition of physical punishment?
"Ireland changed the law and it has not resulted in parents being criminalised or being unable to control their children. There has been some evidence of a rise in people seeking help when they are in difficulties. There are other ways of being able to parent your child.
"The evidence couldn't be clearer. If you introduce equal protection, there is a corresponding reduction in the physical abuse of children.
"I think we will end up with parents saying 'why on earth did we tolerate this for so long?’”

Read the Commissioner’s interview in the Sunday Herald.