Removing the defence of "justifiable assault"

If the Scottish Parliament were to pass a new law that allowed us to hit children, there would be an outcry – but such a law already exists.

Parents charged with assaulting a child can argue in their defence that they were using physical punishment. In law this is known as “justifiable assault.”

Today parents, children, professionals and policy makers know that physical punishment doesn’t work. We also have comprehensive international evidence that physical punishment can harm children’s long-term health and well-being.

Yet, our law gives children less protection from assault than anybody else in society, including animals.

Join the campaign

Join Children 1st, other children's charities, the police, the Church of Scotland, children and young people, the medical professions, human rights organisations and others from across Scotland in supporting John Finnie MSP’s call to reform the law.

Thank you to everyone who supported John Finnie's consultation on legal reform. John is currently considering the responses and we will update this page on the next steps.

Read Children 1st's full consultation response.

If Scotland wants to be the best country in the world for children, we cannot be one of the last to end "justifiable assault."

Find out more

Children need #EqualProtection. I support @JohnFinnieHI campaign to reform the law. @Children1st
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