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Rob Flett reports
"The charity says children should have the same rights as adults in protection against assault"
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Sue Elsley of Save the Children Scotland
"The Scottish Executive could take a lead in enforcing a ban on physical punishment"
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Monday, 17 April, 2000, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
Charity urges smacking ban
Parents who use excessive force can be prosecuted
A leading Scottish charity is calling on MSPs to follow the example of Sweden and introduce a ban on the smacking of children.

Save the Children Scotland hails the Swedish move to make smacking illegal as a great success story which could be repeated elsewhere.

It bases its call to Scotland's leaders on a study of the effects of the 20-year-old ban in the Scandinavian country.

The findings, published in a report entitled "A Generation Without Smacking", include:

  • Public support for corporal punishment in Sweden has decreased.

  • There has been no increase in the number of parents prosecuted for minor assault.

  • The number of children taken into care has fallen by more than 25%.

  • The number of children drinking alcohol or becoming involved in theft or drug abuse has fallen steadily.

Save the Children is now hoping to put pressure on the Scottish Executive as it carries out a consultation on smacking.

Susan Elsley, from Save the Children Scotland, said: "This report shows that there is valuable information to be learned from the Swedish experience.

"Parents and the public at large are clearly showing far more support for the ban on physical punishment than when it was brought in.

'Same rights as adults'

"We believe the Scottish Executive is presented with an ideal opportunity to make the acceptance of physical abuse of children a thing of the past.

"Children should have the same protection from assault as adults, as a basic, fundamental human right."

The law in Scotland already protects children from "unreasonable chastisement".

The report reviews the Swedish experience
The issue of the smacking of children became the subject of public debate last summer following two high-profile cases in Scotland.

A Lanarkshire father was found guilty at Hamilton Sheriff Court of assault after smacking his eight-year-old daughter in a dentist's waiting room in Motherwell, when she refused to have a tooth out.

In June he was admonished by Sheriff Dan Russell, who then ordered the case to be referred to the Children's Panel.

In August an Aberdeen father who repeatedly hit his 11-year-old daughter with a leather belt was convicted of assault.

He claimed in court he had used "reasonable chastisement" to punish his child who he suspected was involved in solvent abuse.

Smacking was brought to the public's attention at the weekend when hundreds of children marched through the centre of London demanding an end to the punishment.

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08 Feb 00 | Scotland
Smacking paper published
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