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Young people have said that they should not be subjected to assault.
As Holyrood’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee reaches the end of its stage one scrutiny of the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Bill, Children 1st and the Scottish Youth Parliament have issued a joint call for children and young people’s voices to be heard as the legislation progresses through the Scottish Parliament.
With the report due to be published imminently, Scotland’s national children’s charity and the Scottish Youth Parliament have highlighted evidence that rates of physical punishment are declining and most children and young people want to see legal reform to remove the defence of “justifiable assault.”
In advance of the last Scottish Parliament elections, the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Lead the Way manifesto revealed that 82% of more than 72,000 responses from Scotland’s young people agreed that all physical assault against children should be illegal.
Feedback from 260 pupils who participated in the Equalities and Human Rights Committee ‘meeting in a box’ to gather evidence from children and young people about the bill show that 66% of them support the bill.
In total, 86% of the witnesses who gave oral evidence to the committee backed the legal reform to give children the same protection from assault as adults.
Mary Glasgow, chief executive of Children 1st, said: “The resounding message from parenting organisations, academics and statutory agencies to Holyrood is that Scotland will no longer tolerate physical punishment of children. Physical punishment doesn’t work, can do harm and there is no evidence from countries like Ireland and New Zealand that changing the law will increase convictions against parents.