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Hitting children is the same as hitting an adult and should be considered violence, says Wales Humanists

Wales Humanists has called on the Welsh Government to stop violence against children, urging the Government to ban all physical punishment of children in Wales.

In its response to the Welsh Government consultation on ‘reasonable punishment’ in Wales, Wales Humanists said that, just as adults have legal protection from assault, children should have the same right to be protected from violence.

The proposed change in the law would abolish the defence of ‘reasonable punishment’ – making any form of physical punishment or violence against children illegal.

Physical punishment of children such as hitting has been shown to increase the odds of mental health problems both during childhood and in later life, and to lead to a range of negative behavioural outcomes including high aggression, lower cognitive ability, and lower self-esteem.

Wales Humanists, which launched an online campaign to encourage responses to the consultation, also highlighted the position of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, which recognises that ‘any physical punishment of children, however minor, is incompatible with the human rights of children.’

Critics of the proposed bill have argued that ordinary parents would face criminal convictions for doing their best to discipline their children. But Wales Humanists said it was important for parents to consider the harm that it causes to children and advised that the change would be accompanied by an awareness raising campaign designed to help parents to understand their responsibilities and manage their behaviour in a more positive way.

Wales Humanists co-ordinator Kathy Riddick said:

‘We support the Government’s proposed move to change the law to stop the physical punishment of children.  It is important that just as adults have legal protections from violence, children also have those protections in place. Children are individuals in their own rights and they deserve dignity and respect. If this law goes ahead, it will be important that the Government educates parents in advance through a public awareness campaign so that they learn about the harms of hitting children and instead feel encouraged to learn other more suitable alternatives.’

NOTES:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Read the full consultation response here.

Wales Humanists is part of Humanists UK. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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