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Wales Bans Physical Punishment of Children

In Wales, it is now illegal to physically punish children. Any form of corporal punishment, such as hitting, slapping and shaking, is illegal in the country from today/Monday.


The so-called “smacking ban” has been introduced in the Children Act 2020 and means the end of the “reasonable punishment”. It means that children receive the same protection against abuse. The law also applies to everyone, including people visiting Wales.

Parents or adults responsible for children face criminal charges if they physically punish the children in any way.

Critics say the law will criminalize parents, but the Welsh government insists the law will just protect children. “The UN Convention on the Child’s Rights makes clear that children have the right to be protected from harm and injury, including physical punishment,” said Prime Minister Mark Drakeford.

With the new law, Wales joins more than 60 countries worldwide that have introduced laws against the physical punishment of children.

Hitherto, hitting a child was illegal but allowed as long as it was a “reasonable punishment.” That is still the case in England and Northern Ireland; what a “reasonable punishment” was then, on the circumstances. For example, the child’s age and the nature of the contact were taken into account.

On Monday, Social Affairs Minister Julie Morgan spoke about a “historic moment for children and their rights in Wales”.

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