Stopping parents smacking could change Scots culture
STOPPING parents from smacking their children will help "stem the trajectory of violence" which "shames" Scotland, one of the country's most senior police officers said yesterday.
Detective Chief Superintendent John Carnochan, head of the Violence Reduction Unit, said the country is plagued by a "culture of chronic and pernicious violence" that could be rectified by further educational initiatives urging parents not to discipline their offspring through violence.
"Stopping parents smacking their children has the ability to change the whole culture of Scotland," he said.
"I would like to see the day when an adult who sees a mother or father smack their child in the street stops that parent and reprimands them, but I don't think that day is close."
"What we're doing at the moment, locking people up, with our jails getting fuller, doesn't work," he said. "It's stupid. We need to teach people life skills, not just deal with the consequences of violence," he said."
Mr Carnochan was speaking at a conference in Edinburgh held to discuss the issues surrounding corporal punishment.
Kathleen Marshall, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, called for a change in the legislation which would ban the use of force against a child.
However, her comments were seized upon by Murdo Fraser, the Tory deputy leader, as part of an "extremist agenda" and "politically-correct nonsense".
Mr Carnochan's views found favour with Ms Marshall, who added that "if we allow little bits of violence to flourish, we're creating a violent society."
The commissioner went further, however, urging a rethink of the law. She said: "It is unbelievable that in the 21st century, Scots law still allows 'justifiable assault' on children. There needs to be the complete removal of this defence so that what would be an assault on an adult would be an assault on a child."
The existing legislation, the Criminal Justice Act 2003, allows the defence of "justifiable assault", but it is illegal to punish children by shaking them, striking them on the head or hitting them with an implement such as a cane.
That, said Mr Fraser, who is also the Tory spokesman on education, was ample. He said: "It is unbelievable that Scotland's children commissioner is wasting her time on this politically-correct nonsense when there are many more serious issues affecting the welfare of children that she should be addressing."
Ian Turner, head of the Executive's family law and administrative justice team, said there are no plans to change existing legislation.
FIVE years ago, Frenchman Sylvian Bouquelet was found guilty of assaulting his eight-year-old son in Edinburgh after kicking and punching the boy. He was admonished, but the verdict was widely criticised in France.
Elizabeth Keenan, 47, from Hamilton was fined 75 in February this year for smacking a three-year-old girl she mistook for her runaway granddaughter.
She was told by the Sheriff that her use of force was unreasonable, and she would have been convicted even if the girl had been her own granddaughter.
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