The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act removed the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement” from the law of Scotland on 7 November 2020

Before 7 November, a parent or carer who assaulted a child, for example by smacking, skelping or slapping them, could claim that this was “reasonable chastisement”. Defining what was or was not reasonable was confusing. The new Act makes clear that all such physical punishment is not acceptable and there is no defence in law for any person.

Evidence shows that physical punishment is not in the best interests of children. Physical punishment is harmful, and it is not effective.

We know being a parent or carer is challenging and support is available. The ParentClub website contains tried and tested hints and tips on coping with being a parent. If talking to someone might help, you can call Children 1st Parentline on 08000 28 22 33. This is free. Or you can chat to someone online. This is free too.

If you see someone physically punishing their child or know of this taking place you should follow our local child protection procedures by contacting the Council’s child protection team on 01738 476768 or by emailing [email protected]  for professionals working with children and families you can find practitioner guides and further information online.

If a child or young person is in immediate danger, you should call 999 to report a crime in progress.