Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed the introduction of legislation that gives children the same legal protection from assault as adults.

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019, otherwise known as the ‘smacking ban’ came into effect on Saturday 7 November and removes the outdated defence of “reasonable chastisement” from the physical assault of children.

The act which gives the same legal protections to children as adults from assault was passed by the Scottish Parliament last October, making it the first part of the UK to bring in legislation of this kind.

The SNP MSP said: “I’m delighted that this legislation has now come into effect to uphold the rights of children. 

“Evidence shows that physical punishment can cause long-term harm to children. It is associated with increased childhood aggression and antisocial behaviour, can be related to depressive symptoms and anxiety among children, and carries a serious risk of escalation into abuse—all factors that not only impact on the child at the time, but can cause problems in later life.”

“Removing the outdated legal defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ for striking a child is consistent with Scotland’s ambition to implement the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. This legislation is essential in fulfilling the goal of making Scotland a nation which promotes the best possible start to life for children.”

Children’s Minister Maree Todd said: “I’m very pleased that Scotland has become the first part of the UK to legislate to ensure that children, without exception, have the same protection from assault as adults.

“This outdated defence has no place in a modern Scotland. It can never be reasonable to strike a child. The removal of this defence reaffirms that we want this country to be the best place in the world for children to grow up so that they feel loved, safe, respected and can realise their full potential.

“We have worked in partnership with organisations including children’s charities, Social Work Scotland and Police Scotland on implementation of this Act. As part of this, we will continue to promote positive parenting and build on the support we already offer to children and families.”

Equal Protection from Assault (Scotland) Act