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A light smack in ‘heat of the moment’ would not be prosecuted, MSPs are told

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Giving a child a light smack in the “heat of the moment” would not result in a prosecution under Scotland’s smacking ban, it was claimed yesterday.

Claire Simpson of Parenting Across Scotland made the claim when she told MSPs that smacking bans in other countries had not resulted in parents being criminalised.

Ms Simpson is a member of an implementation group set up by the Scottish Government to look at the ban proposed by Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finne. Police and the procurator fiscal representatives also sit on the group.

Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie.

“The police say there would still be a screening mechanism, an assessment which would happen in any case,” Ms Simpson said.

“One of the cases, because it always seems to be the thing that people cite, is what if a child ran into the road? Most of us, whether it be adult or child, would pull them back.

“But I’d say if there were a smack, a light smack in the heat of the moment, the police said that generally that would not be considered assault.”

Support for plan aimed at protecting children from physical punishment

Ms Simpson went on to suggest that if a child was assaulted after the incident then that would be prosecuted when she appeared in front of Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee.

A leading opponent of the ban, which is supported by the Scottish Government, claimed those who believe slapping a child on the wrist is harmful are “living on another planet”.

Stuart Waiton of Abertay University said criminalising parents who smack their children would be “negative, patronising and elitist”.

Police warn that smacking ban could cost the force

Dr Waiton said: “This is a tragic, depressing bill, and yet another one which appears to represent the aloof, elitist nature of politics and professional life that treats parents in a very patronising and degraded way.

“It uses all sorts of weird legalistic talk about violence, equating children with adults that makes no sense at all to ordinary people, and criminalises parents.”

Demonstrating a slap on the wrist, Dr Waiton urged: “I would just plead to your common sense that if you think that doing that to a small child is a form of violence that harms them then you are living on another planet.”

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