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Ending physical punishment in Wales

Physically punishing children is illegal in Wales.

We want to protect children and their rights, to give them the best start in life.

What is physical punishment?

There are lots of types of physical punishment. It can mean smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking. But there are other types too. It isn’t possible to give a set list of what makes up physical punishment because it can be anything where a child is punished using physical force.

Research suggests that any type of physical punishment could be harmful to children.

What’s the law on physical punishment in Wales? 

  • All physical punishment is illegal in Wales.
  • Children have the same protection from assault as adults.
  • This means the law is clear - easy for children, parents, professionals and the public to understand. 

Does the new law apply to everybody in Wales?

Yes, it applies to everyone - parents or anyone who is responsible for a child while the parentis absent. 

And as with other laws, it applies to visitors to Wales too.

Physical punishment has been illegal in schools, children’s homes, local authority foster care homes and childcare settings for some time.

What happens if people physically punish a child?

Anyone who physically punishes a child:  

  • will be breaking the law  
  • risks being arrested or charged with assault
  • may get a criminal record which is the same for any criminal offence

Information, advice and support is available for anyone who needs it, to help them find positive ways to manage children’s behaviour and to help avoid such a situation ever happening.

What should I do if I see a child being physically punished or if I am concerned about a child?

  • Contact your local social services department.
  • You can also call the police in an emergency or if a child is in immediate danger.

Where can I get advice and support?

  • Parenting. Give it time offers positive parenting practical hints, tips and expert advice to encourage good behaviour from children and alternatives to physical punishment. Their parenting support page offers links to further support and helplines.
  • Universal parenting support and advice is provided by midwives, health visitors, GPs and your local authority. 
  • Early help programmes such as Flying Start (if you live in a Flying Start area) and Families First.

Further information

Resources and background information on the new law.