Parents could no longer justify the use of “legal chastisement” after the Welsh assembly decided to approve the withdrawal of the defence.
The decision has stirred up mixed reactions from officials and the public. Several party leaders are pleased that a motion to outlaw hitting was forwarded. “This is a moral victory, an important step. But in the end we must get legislation against smacking,” Christine Chapman said in an article on The Guardian.
The public sphere has been divided, with everybody holding a point of view on the matter. Only 33% of the people who responded to a survey carried out by The Guardian believe that smacking should be illegal.
“I don’t smack, I don’t like it. Having a father that was, well to put it politely ‘heavy handed’ with my brothers, I won’t use it as a method of punishment. Plus I honestly don’t find it effective,” a forum user said in a post.
Dominic Westerland, 22, is a student born and bred in Cardiff. He said that he is not sure what this proposal will accomplish. “Will the kid report the parents to the Police? And arresting the parent is a little harsh. Some will continue, although it’s not right. There are other ways to discipline children,” Westerland said.
Anthony Stamati from Cardiff is a father who considers smacking an old fashioned practice. He said he was a terrible boy and his father used to smack him but he never slapped his child.
“Some parents are rough, I was brought up rough. But really hitting is bad,” the 49-year-old father said. Alternative discipline is the best option although the majority doesn’t believe that, he says: “Parents will be afraid. You’d be surprised how many kids will start reporting their parents to the Police.”
However, some adopt a more strict approach in raising their children. Another forum user says: “I have no problem with smacking. I was smacked as a child and I have also smacked my own children, not much or hard, but on occasions I have done it.”
Some are more pessimistic and see no real change if the ban is voted. “I think it’s stupid, I can see the point in banning smacking as a means to prevent abusive parents but it won’t stop what goes on behind closed doors,” another forum user said in one post.
“Smacking is becoming a less commonly used form of discipline as more parents recognize there are more effective and acceptable methods.” However, a majority of parents say that smacking should not be banned outright. In contrast, “many organizations support legislation to ban smacking,” according to the Review of Section 58 of the Children Act 2004.