Wales has become the second nation in the United Kingdom to prohibit corporal punishment against children. This announcement is part of a growing movement against corporal punishment across the globe – including the prohibitions of Scotland and Jersey late last year.
These prohibitions are critically important in the United Kingdom, where studies found up to 80 per cent of parents have used physical punishment against their children. This statistic is in line with global estimates: across the world, three out of four young children are regularly subjected to violent discipline by their caregivers. These prohibitions are key to curbing such behaviour and send a strong signal to shift social and cultural norms over time.
On January 28, the Welsh National Assembly passed the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) Act and achieved equal protection from assault for children. According to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, the Act also requires the Welsh Government to boost public awareness of corporal punishment and report on the effects of the ban three and five years after it comes into force. The Government has committed to spending £2.2 million on a six-year awareness-raising campaign on the ban.
In Scotland, the parliament adopted the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Act on 3 October 2019. As the first corporal punishment ban in and around the United Kingdom, the Act was a historic moment for children’s safety. And in Jersey, the States Assembly adopted the Children and Education (Amendment) Law on 10 December 2019, which explicitly prohibits corporal punishment in all settings. Before this reform, corporal punishment was still lawful and active in the home, some daycare settings, and within the classroom.
Across the world, 58 states and 16 territories that have now prohibited corporal punishment. Still, 88 per cent of children across the world are not protected from corporal punishment by law. Though contexts vary, every country can do more to prevent and end violence against children.
Learn more about Wales, Scotland and Jersey through our partner, the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children. The Global Initiative has also just released its 2019 report, which tracks progress of prohibition across the world.