21 March 2022 was a historic moment for children and their rights in Wales. From this day forward, physically punishing children is illegal in Wales. This change to the law aims to protect children and their rights and give them the best start in life.
Voluntary sector organisations in Wales need to be aware of this change to law and many will have a role in raising awareness and supporting families to understand the changes.
Organisations that work with children may also want to consider how the law should be reflected in their safeguarding policy.
WHAT DOES THE CHANGE IN LAW MEAN?
- All physical punishment is illegal in Wales.
- It gives children the same protection from assault as adults.
- It makes the law clearer – easier for children, parents, professionals and the public to understand.
WILL THE CHANGE IN LAW APPLY TO EVERYONE IN WALES?
Yes, it will apply to everyone – parents or anyone who is responsible for a child while the parents are absent. And as with other laws, it will apply to visitors to Wales too.
WHAT HAPPENS IF PEOPLE PHYSICALLY PUNISH A CHILD?
Anyone who physically punishes a child:
- will be breaking the law
- risks being arrested or charged with assault
- may get a criminal record which is the same for any criminal offence
Information, advice and support is available for anyone who needs it, to help them find positive ways to manage children’s behaviour and to help avoid such a situation ever happening.
What should I do if I see a child being physically punished or if I am concerned about a child?
- Contact your local social services department.
- You can also call the police in an emergency or if a child is in immediate danger.
ADVICE AND SUPPORT
- Factsheet for organisations that work with children outside of formal education and childcare
- Resources and background information on the change in law
- Parenting – give it time offers positive parenting practical hints, tips and expert advice to encourage good behaviour from children and alternatives to physical punishment. Their parenting support page offers links to further support and helplines.
- All Wales Safeguarding Procedures