A spokesperson for Be Reasonable Scotland, the campaign group spearheading opposition to the ban said:

“More than 140 countries around the world continue to respect parents’ freedom – and responsibility – to discipline their children appropriately.

“This Bill could see them in the dock for simply tapping their kids on the back of the hand or pulling them away from the side of the road.

“It’s no wonder the 2017 ComRes poll shows the ban remains opposed by almost 75 per cent of Scots.

“Even the 2015 polling quoted by Maree Todd found two-thirds agreed the law should remain the same. Opposition to a smacking ban has grown since.”

The ComRes poll found:

– 74% say parental smacking of children should not be a criminal offence.

– 78% are concerned a smacking ban might flood police and social workers with trivial cases which mean they struggle to stop serious abusers.

– 75% says it should be the role of parents and guardians whether or not to smack their children.

– 66% say it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child

– 85% say they were smacked by parents or guardians as a form of discipline.

The Member’s Bill has been put forward by John Finnie, who was elected as Scottish Greens list MSP for Highland and Islands in 2016 with 7.2% of the vote.

The spokesperson continued:

“It seems astounding that the MSP behind this is trying to dictate to the vast majority while freely admitting that he smacked his own kids and they turned out ‘well rounded’.

“He wants to deny the same right and responsibility to millions of Scottish mums and dads who understand the need to lovingly admonish their kids.

“Around 85% of adults were smacked as children. Do they think they were subjected to ‘inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’, as has been claimed by supporters of the Bill?

“Describing smacking in these terms trivialises behaviour that genuinely reaches that threshold and is deeply offensive to those who have suffered it.

“Children rightly enjoy strong protections from assault. It is highly irresponsible and deeply misleading to suggest otherwise.

“Police and social workers are already overstretched. Criminalising loving parents for giving a light infrequent smack for the purpose of teaching right and wrong will inevitably divert valuable resources away from children who genuinely need help.”

“All the reputable research, including recent research sponsored by the Welsh Government, shows that far from being damaging to children, mild discipline in a loving home can be just as effective as other methods.

“When Mr Finnie suggested this Bill the SNP Government opposed it – as their MSPs did the last time it was proposed in 2002 when they branded it ‘unworkable’.

“In fact the Bill’s demise was greeted as a ‘victory for common sense’ by the party now championing it on Mr Finnie’s behalf.

“Nothing has changed since the last time. It was unworkable and unwelcome then. It is unworkable and unwelcome now.

“In April last year the Scottish Government said a ban ‘could potentially criminalise parents for lightly smacking their children’, adding ‘we do not think that would be appropriate and effective’.

“Then all of a sudden in October, just as the Government scrambled around desperate to secure votes to pass its Budget, there was a spectacular U-turn and a Bill sponsored by a Green MSP suddenly found favour.

“The Finnie consultation process was carried out during the summer school holidays at a time the Scottish Government was flatly denying it would support the Bill and, unsurprisingly, the consultation was ignored by the public.

“It had just 660 responses. That’s equivalent to about 0.11% of Scottish households with dependent children. That’s no mandate for criminalising thousands of ordinary loving parents.

“Proper consultation is needed before they even consider going any further.”

Issued on behalf of Be Reasonable Scotland by
Tom Hamilton Communications
Tel: 0141 639 8355
Mob: 07836 603977