Scots Parents Could Face a Smacking Ban; UN Human Rights Rules May Lead to Prosecutions

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Byline: Alan Roden Scottish Political Reporter

SCOTTISH parents could be banned from smacking their children after ministers were warned of their 'obligation' to meet human rights rules.

Faced with an attack from the United Nations over the UK's refusal to outlaw smacking, the Scottish Executive yesterday said it was 'committed' to the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

But the convention includes a requirement for countries to outlaw the physical punishment of children.

Charities said that means Scotland is now duty-bound to ban smacking, which could see thousands of mothers and fathers facing prosecution.

UNICEF, the UN's children's fund, also urged Scottish ministers to comply with the rules. But critics believe parents should have the power of reasonable punishment.

Scottish Conservative children'spokesman Liz Smith said: 'When there was a full parliamentary debate on this issue, there was a clear majority in favour of the view that the existing legislation in Scotland was very effective.

'A total ban on smacking would be inappropriate and a further intrusion by government into the lives of parents the length and breadth of Scotland.' In 2003, the Scottish Executive considered an outright ban on smacking.

It would have become an offence to smack children under the age of three, or hit those of any age with an 'implement' such as a belt, slipper or cane.

The proposals on using an implement were adopted but the smacking ban on under-threes was dropped after a Holyrood committee rejected it.

Minister for Children and Early Years Adam Ingram said yesterday: 'The Scottish government is committed to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and supporting the rights of all children in Scotland. …