Welsh Assembly plans to criminalise parents that smack their children will cost millions of pounds, senior politicians in Wales have admitted.
In July, the official consultation on the proposed smacking legislation revealed not only were there high levels of public opposition but also the costs of implementing the bill could be between £2.3m and £3.7m.
The report by the Children, Young People and Education Committee also admitted these costs would not include the various additional costs to social services or the family courts.
Despite this, the majority of Welsh Assembly members on the committee have reiterated their support for the proposals and still seek the ban to come into force.
Sally Jenkins, former chairwoman of the All Wales Heads of Children’s Services and a senior member of Newport Council, said the ‘unknown costs’ were a challenge, while another expert called them ‘problematic’.
As reported in previous editions of Evangelical Times, polling has shown consistently that the majority of people in Wales do not want a law which could criminalise parents who choose to use light physical discipline.
Moreover, Public Health Wales has noted that a ban on smacking could be ‘disproportionately applied to families from more socially disadvantaged groups’.
Earlier this year, the UK Ministry of Justice raised ‘serious concerns’ about how a ban would affect divorcing parents.
Be Reasonable, a grassroots campaign group opposed to the ban, said the determination to press ahead with the legislation shows that politicians are out of touch with the public.
In a statement, Be Reasonable said, ‘Polling consistently shows the majority of people in Wales don’t want a law which could criminalise parents who choose to use light physical discipline’.
In April this year, The Christian Institute published a leaflet aimed at helping people understand what the Welsh proposals might mean.
The leaflet said, ‘Whether you support smacking or not, it is surely wrong to criminalise parents for it.
‘More than three-quarters of the Welsh public are opposed to smacking being made a criminal offence. The legal defence of “reasonable chastisement” only protects parents who use a mild smack.
‘Any unreasonable chastisement is already unlawful. Removing this defence would be an unprecedented interference in family life by the state’.