From today, children in Wales will enjoy the same legal protection from assault that adults are currently afforded. This means that smacking, hitting, slapping, or any other sort of physical punishment of children in Wales is now illegal.
The Faculty of Public Health has previously led calls to offer protection from assault for children in Scotland, and The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill passed through Holyrood in October 2019.
Research is clear that physically punishing children can damage their health and well-being. As well as injuries sustained from being hit harder than intended, physical punishment can lead to an increased risk of the child developing aggressive, antisocial behaviours themselves or suffering low self-esteem, depression or anxiety which can continue into adulthood.
Whilst children in Wales and Scotland are now protected from physical punishment, this is not the case for those living in England or Northern Ireland.
Evidence shows us that laws protecting children from violence lead to a better future for families, removing doubts about whether hitting a child can be justifiable, and empowering families to give their children the best start in life.
It is now time for England and Northern Ireland to follow the examples of Scotland and Wales by delivering legislation which will stop the long-lasting consequences of violence against children.