Physically punishing children becomes illegal in Wales

21st March 2022

From today [March 21st] physically punishing a children will be illegal in Wales as the Welsh Government and emergency services come together to put children at the heart of decision making.

Wales joins more than 60 nations across the world to end the physical punishment of children. This landmark legislation removes the archaic 160-year-old legal defence and provides children the same protection from assault as adults.

Under the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 all types of physical punishment, such as smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking, are illegal. The new law will apply to everybody in Wales, including visitors, from 21 March 2022.

The First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford said: ”I am delighted the physical punishment of children is now illegal in Wales. This is a historic achievement for children and their rights.

“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child makes it clear that children have the right to be protected from harm and from being hurt and this includes physical punishment. That right is now enshrined in Welsh law. No more grey areas. No more ‘defence of reasonable punishment.’ That is all in the past. There is no place for physical punishment in a modern Wales.”

Chief Constable Pam Kelly said: “Protecting and safeguarding children from harm is a core part of policing. This legislation is clear and  coupled with good partnership working will help us all to keep children in Wales even safer.

“Today’s change in legislation makes it illegal to physically punish a child.

“Working with the public, partner agencies and Welsh Government we’re committed to educating, supporting and, where required acting.

“By coming together and clearly defining the differences between discipline and physical punishment we’re ensuring the next generation are not scarred from traumatic experiences.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert said: “It is time that children in Wales were given the same protection from physical punishment as adults, bringing us in line with several countries across the world by giving children equal protection in law.

“We will continue to work with Welsh Government to ensure that education and guidance is provided to parents.

“We have supported the creation of the implementation plan for the Act and I am pleased that support services for families will be available from councils.

“The law does not inadvertently criminalise parents and criminal action will only be taken when clearly necessary.”