Equal protection

Scots Law is changing to make sure that children have the same protection from assault as adults

Why is the law changing?

The law is changing because previously children had less protection from assault than adults. We know that physical punishment doesn’t work as a way of changing behaviour or warning children – research shows us that it can harm children’s emotional and physical health and can make relationships between children and their parents/carers worse.

How is the law changing?

From 7th November children will have the same protection as adults from assault. The law change does not introduce a new criminal offence– it was already illegal to assault a child. What it does is to remove the defence that was previously available. The law that already protects adults from all forms of assault will now protect children too.

What does this mean for me?

The change in the law probably won’t affect most parents as fewer and fewer parents use physical punishment now. There are better ways to stop your child getting into harm’s way or encouraging good behaviour.

If you were to hit your child, there would no longer be a defence in law.

Where can I get help?

There are times as parents when we’re tired or stressed or just plain at the end of our tether.

You can find out more about the law change on the Scottish Government’s website.

You can find tips about managing your child’s behaviour here and on the ParentClub website.

If you’d like to talk to someone about any concerns you have about bringing up your children, you can phone Parentline or one of the helplines listed here.