Scotland’s leading children’s charities and Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner have hailed yesterdays historic Holyrood vote on equal protection as a UK first in legally protecting children from justifiable assault.
MSPs made history by voting in favour of Scotland becoming the first country in the UK to end the physical punishment of children. Green MSP John Finnie’s Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill was voted through its third stage in parliament with 84 votes for and only 29 against.
In 2015, NSPCC Scotland, Barnardo’s Scotland, Children 1st and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland commissioned research which highlighted the negative impact of the physical punishment on children. Since the publication of the Equally Protected report, the four organisations have worked together with John Finnie MSP on his Member’s Bill to remove the ‘justifiable assault’ defence from Scots Law.
Joanna Barrett, policy and public affairs officer for NSPCC Scotland, said: “This historic vote delivers a UK first in fairness and equality for children which the NSPCC has long championed.
“It’s a common sense move that closes an archaic loophole and ensures that, finally, children in Scotland will have the same protection from assault as adults.
“The Scottish Parliament has listened to the evidence and acted in the best interests of our children, bringing our country into line with dozens of others that have all done the same thing.
“NSPCC Scotland thanks MSPs for listening and making a decision that ends the legally sanctioned physical punishment of our children.
“We will continue to work with the Scottish government as this change is implemented and the out-of-date defence of justifiable assault is, at long last, deleted from law.”
Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, Martin Crewe, said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Parliament has today passed the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill, this is a momentous day for children’s rights and we are extremely proud to have supported John Finnie and the Bill throughout this process.
“We know from our work across Scotland that children develop and thrive in safe, loving, nurturing environments. This Bill is first and foremost about ensuring our legal system fully protects children from all forms of violence, but it is also about helping to drive a positive culture change. We want to see a society where no violence against children is acceptable; a society where all children can expect to grow up feeling safe and loved.
“The Bill is not the end of this journey and we still have a way to go in ensuring that families receive appropriate help and support when they need it. We would like to see the passing of this Bill stimulate a renewed effort to look at what support is available for families who may be struggling.
“We extend our gratitude to John Finnie and his office for their dedication and passion for this issue and all their work to ensure the successful passage of the Bill – and we also commend Parliament for their commitment to upholding children’s rights. We look forward to seeing similar legislation passed in the Welsh Assembly and hope that this progress can be mirrored across the other nations of the UK too.”
Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st said: “This is a defining moment for Scotland. Again and again people have told us about the lifelong impact of being hit as a child, as they’ve joined the campaign to change the law.
“Today’s vote protects every future generation of Scotland’s children from any and all levels of physical violence. Families will be stronger and communities will be safer. Once again Scotland is leading the rest of the UK in doing what’s right for children – our most precious and vulnerable citizens.”
Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland: “Assaulting a child for the purpose of punishment should never be legal and this important law change brings Scotland into line with its international human rights commitment to provide children with comprehensive legal protection from violence.
“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out that every child has the right to grow up in a family environment of happiness, love and understanding – violence should never be part of family life. Today the Scottish Parliament has played its crucial role as a human rights guarantor and I commend John Finnie on his strong human rights leadership on this issue.”