Paediatricians call for stricter legislation on spanking in England, Northern Ireland


Pediatricians from the United Kingdom urged the government on Wednesday to follow in the footsteps of “developed governments” such as Scotland and Wales by banning people from hitting children in England and Northern Ireland. According to these paediatricians, the UK should have done this a long time ago.

However, one minister insisted that existing legislation was completely sufficient.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) says in a new report that current legislation creates “grey areas” that can justify corporal punishment in some cases.

Wales declared any form of corporal punishment illegal in March 2022, while Scotland introduced a similar ban in November 2020.

The RCPCH argues that certain legislation in England and Northern Ireland – enacted in 2004 and 2006 respectively – should be amended to eliminate any possible “fair corporal punishment defence”.

According to the report, in the run-up to the next general election, all politicians should campaign for the amendment of this legislation to protect and promote children’s rights.

Laura Trott, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, maintains that existing legislation in England does not tolerate child abuse in any way.

“This is very clearly set out in the Children’s Act,” she said about this issue.

However, pediatrician and RCPCH officer Andrew Rowland is not convinced.

“Legislation on corporal punishment as it currently stands is unfair and dangerously vague.

“This creates gray areas where some forms of corporal punishment may be legal and others not.”

According to Rowland, he has been confronted many times with situations where a child has been subjected to alleged corporal punishment, but due to “vague legislation” it is extremely difficult to intervene and do something about such a situation.

“Changes to existing legislation in England and Ireland will provide the necessary clarity and ensure that there are no cases where it is legal or acceptable to hit a child.”