Tag Archives: smacking

Cole-Hamilton’s pride as Scotland passes smacking ban

If Alex Cole-Hamilton were to slap me, he would, rightly, face the full force of the law. If he were to slap his 5 year old daughter Darcy (which would never happen), he could do so with the full support of the law, which allows “reasonable chastisement.”

That is an inconsistency that he has been campaigning against for years. Today his work and that of many others was rewarded when the Scottish Parliament voted to give children the same protection from assault in law as adults, becoming the first country in the UK to do so.

I’ve known Alex for almost two decades. In that time I’ve teased him on many occasions, always with justification. But there have been many more times when I have been proud of him and today is one of the biggest. One of the reasons I spent a decade trying to get him elected was that I knew he would be an amazing advocate for Scotland’s children.

He’s been working to change the law on physical punishment of children for a long time. And he had an uphill battle trying to change party policy. In 2013, we lost by just 9 votes. Three years later, the result went the opposite way – and overwhelmingly. The proposer of the amendment in favour of keeping the law as it is changed his mind during the course of the debate, persuaded by the arguments. This move ensured Lib Dem support for the Bill today.

Today’s Bill was originally brought by Green MSP John Finnie but it had cross party support across Holyrood – except from the Conservatives, of course.

Here is Alex’s speech in favour of the Bill.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

LibLink: Alex Cole-Hamilton: There is no such thing as “justifiable assault”

In his regular column for Edinburgh’s Evening News, Alex Cole-Hamilton outlines why he has sponsored a Bill to ban physical punishment of children:

People talk about it being a ban on smacking, but all it really seeks to do is to extend the same protections to children that adults currently enjoy – the fundamental right to live a life without fear of violence. There is no law in Scotland which states you have the right to hit your child, but parents are enabled to do through the legal defence of ‘justifiable assault’. People hit their kids and the law isn’t interested, only because they could claim the assault was justified on the grounds of punishment.

Seems ok? Not when I tell you that a similar defence used to apply to the hitting of women and of servants but we happily repealed those eons ago. This all boils down to the fact that children are now the only sentient creature in Scottish society you can strike in anger with legal impunity. That puts us out of kilter with international human rights treaties. We’re signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which demands we protect children from physical punishment, and as such in every examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, it’s a big red cross on our report card.

And he looks at some of the arguments used by opponents:

“This is nanny state gone mad and will see legions of decent parents marched through the courts.” This isn’t about criminalising parents, it’s about culture change. There has been no detectable uptick in prosecutions of parents in the countries where this is operating already, parents just make different decisions as to how to discipline their kids.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged and | 11 Comments

Cole-Hamilton: Children must have equal protection from assault

Well, this will probably be a controversial one as the issue over whether parents should have the right to hit their children for some peculiar reason always causes a big argument in liberal circles. My own view has always been that there are no circumstances in which it is justifiable to hit a child and that there is always a better way. Having children grow up thinking that it’s fine to hit someone smaller and defenceless to get your own way really isn’t a good look. Some children will grow up emotionally scarred from the experience of what some people …

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 5 Comments
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