New research has found 58% of the Welsh public believe it is already against the law to physically punish children in Wales.
The research, which was carried out for the Welsh Government, also found just 35% of people said it would sometimes be necessary to smack a child.
The same research showed the level of support for smacking was even lower among those with caring responsibilities – including parents, guardians and family members – for children aged seven or less. Just 28% agreed with the statement that “it was sometimes necessary to smack a child.”
The findings also showed that less than a quarter of people questioned (24%) aged 16 to 34 were likely to agree with smacking.
Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, who is responsible for the Welsh Government Bill, which will outlaw the physical punishment of children in Wales, said:
“We must end the physical punishment of children. This research shows that most people already believe that this is the case. The Bill will give clarity in this area, for parents, carers, children, and professionals who work with families.
“There is a growing consensus internationally that the physical punishment of children should be prohibited by law. Fifty-four other countries and states have already legislated for this. My hope is that Wales will soon be added to this number.”
The research was undertaken by Beaufort Research to establish public attitudes towards physical punishment of children and public awareness of The Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill.
The Bill is being scrutinised by the National Assembly for Wales and proposes ending the physical punishment of children by removing the current defence of reasonable punishment to the existing offences of assault and battery.
Parents are currently able to use the defence of reasonable punishment against a charge of common assault, but not against more serious charges of, for example, actual bodily harm.
The Welsh Government intends to repeat the survey at regular intervals as the Bill progresses through the scrutiny process and if it is passed by the National Assembly for Wales. The findings will be used to track public awareness and opinion.