What does "Ending Physical Punishment in Wales" actually mean?

In January 2020 the Senedd passed the Welsh Government’s Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 (“the Act”). The overarching aim is to help protect children’s rights and give all children in Wales the best start in life. The Act received Royal Assent on 20 March 2020 and there now follows a comprehensive multi-media stakeholder and public awareness campaign before the Act comes into force on 21 March 2022.

The change in law does not create a new offence, rather it removes a 160-year-old legal defence – the defence of reasonable punishment –so that it cannot be used by anybody charged with common assault against a child. Over the years legislation has limited the circumstances where the defence could be used and limited the settings where children can be physically punished. Physical punishment has long been outlawed in schools, children’s homes, local authority foster care homes and childcare settings. The new legislation means it will also be outlawed in unregulated settings, such as the home, for the first time.

Browse the resources below for more information and updates on this key development in Welsh legislation.

Data, Collection, Monitoring and Evaluation

Social services data: ‘Social Services activity: April 2021 to March 2022’ data was  published on 21st December 2022.  While this is a broad collection of social services related data, it includes two sets of data, as set out below, to inform an assessment of the impact of the law change on social services. Links to both sets of data, published on the Stats Wales pages, are below. The number of contacts metric provides information about the demand on social services in terms of  “front door” referrals involving physical punishment of children. The assessments metric provides information about how many of these referrals proceed to assessment stage.

A Headteacher's Take on Ending Physical Punishment in Wales

A Paediatrician's Take on Ending Physical Punishment in Wales

A Psychologist's Take on Ending Physical Punishment in Wales