Julie Morgan AM has introduced the Children (Abolition of the Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill to end the physical punishment of children. The Bill will seek to protect children from all forms of violence. In doing so, children in Wales will be offered the same legal protection from physical punishment as adults.
The RCN is a member of the Children are Unbeatable! Alliance (CUA), a coalition of more than 350 organisations and individuals seeking legal reform to give children protection from violence and assault.
Helen Whyley, Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Wales, said: “RCN Wales welcomes this introductory legislation. In the past, parents have always received mixed messages about disciplining children. Discipline and physical punishment are not the same thing.
School nurses, health visitors and children’s nurses are best placed to advise parents about managing their children’s behaviour. Children are a vulnerable population and this legislation would protect their rights."
Michelle Moseley, Lecturer, Primary Care and Public Health Nursing/ Director of Learning in Practice, Cardiff University and winner of the RCN in Wales Nurse of the Year Safeguarding Award 2018 said: “The Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment (Wales) Bill is a long time coming, especially if you look at how the protection of children from physical punishment has progressed worldwide. As a nation we have to advocate for our children, our future generations and respect what is set out in the UN convention on the rights of the child. This encompasses how children are nurtured within their first 1000 days and as they progress throughout childhood. There are many strategies to apply when parenting and disciplining your child. Physical punishment should not be one of those strategies. The new Bill will offer clarity for parents and carers. Reasonable punishment can mean so many different things to individuals. Smacking is not (however light) ok, hitting is not ok. Support around disciplining children is available from Specialist Community Public Health Nursing Teams, namely, health visitors and school nurses."
She added: “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. This very much is supported by the work around adverse childhood experiences. I welcome the Bill and see it as positive step in the protection of children from physical chastisement. It is an opportunity to educate parents and carers, provide them with a clear message and offer support where needed.”