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Scottish legislature backs bill to criminalize parents spanking kids

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

EDINBURGH, Scotland, May 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Scotland is considering legislation that will make any form of physical correction of a child illegal.

The “Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill” passed the first stage of its adoption into law yesterday in Holyrood, Scotland’s Parliament. In Scotland there are three stages to the creation of a new law.

The Bill received 80 votes for and 29 against. All support for the Bill came from the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Labour Party, and the Green Party whereas the opposition came from the Scottish Conservative parties. According to the Holyrood online magazine, the Bill will now be “scrutinized and amended at the committee stage.”

The Green Party’s John Finnie, a Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Highlands and Islands region, introduced the Bill on September 6, 2018. Yesterday he told other MSPs at Holyrood that he wants to “send a clear message” about disciplining children.

“My intention in bringing forward the bill is to bring clarity to the law by removing the defense of reasonable chastisement, sometimes referred to as justifiable assault, and to send a clear message that the physical punishment of children is not acceptable,” he said.

“The growing body of international evidence shows that the physical punishment of children is harmful to their development and is not an effective means of discipline.”

However, the Christian Institute reported that two MSPs from the governing Scottish National Party, who defied their party’s orders by abstaining from voting, had difficulties with the legislation.

The Christian Institute quoted Christine Grahame, MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, as saying that the Bill had “too many unanswered questions” and had “a whole host of possible unintended consequences.”

The charity also published a warning from MSP for Uddingston and Bellshill Richard Lyle, warning that police and social services’ time would be wasted in having to investigate “decent families.”

The “Smacking Ban Bill,” as it is popularly called, is opposed by “Be Reasonable,” a parental rights group that includes a leading psychologist and parenting expert among its supporters. The group stated, through the Christian Institute, that the vote was “disappointing.”

“It’s obviously disappointing that so many MSPs have backed the criminalisation of loving parents,” it wrote.

“But those who spoke against the Bill made a compelling case for why it is a bad idea. And even those who supported it felt the need to try to grapple with the arguments that Scottish parents and other opponents of the Bill have been making,” it continued. “It’s a reminder of the importance of writing to MSPs, and we urge people to continue doing just that.”

Be Reasonable explains on its website that the “reasonable chastisement defence” in Scots Law stops parents from being “criminalised” for smacking their children. It also says that it believes the new law is unnecessary as “immoderate or excessive” punishment is already considered “unjustifiable.”

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