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Wales begins countdown to end the physical punishment of children

Cymru yn dechrau cyfrif y dyddiau at roi terfyn ar gosb gorfforol i blant


With six months to go before a new law ending the physical punishment of children in Wales comes into force, more than £2.9m is being invested in parenting support.

The Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020 gives children the same protection from assault as adults by removing an archaic 160-year-old legal defence.

The new law will apply to everybody in Wales, including visitors, from 21 March 2022. All types of physical punishment, such as smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking, will be illegal.

To help raise awareness of this landmark legislation, a nationwide multi-media advertising campaign – called The Sound of Change – will be launched tomorrow.   

The £2.9m, over four years, will be available to all local authorities in Wales to fund positive parenting support. It will mean that in cases where the police believe it is appropriate to offer an out-of-court disposal there will be an option of offering support to help avoid re-offending. This will, however, depend on individual circumstances.

Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Social Services, said:

“This week marks the beginning of our six-month countdown as we move towards the day when children in Wales will have the legal right to be protected from all forms of violence, however minor.

“I have campaigned for many decades for this change in the law and I am very proud Wales will soon join more than 60 other nations across the world which have outlawed the use of physical punishment towards children.

“Absolutely key to this is providing the necessary information, advice and support for parents to help manage their children’s behaviour without resorting to physical punishment.

“Our campaign will signpost parents to support we’re already providing through our Parenting. Give it Time campaign, health visitors, and our family support programmes, including Flying Start and Families First.

“But we have gone a step further and I’m pleased to announce a new funding package for additional tailored parenting support as a rehabilitative alternative to prosecution in cases where the police are involved.

“This support, delivered by local authorities, will be designed to encourage and support parents in adopting positive parenting techniques while making it absolutely clear that the physical punishment of children is unacceptable in all circumstances.”

Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, added:

“This is landmark legislation for children’s rights in Wales and cannot come soon enough. I wholeheartedly support this legislation as there is no room for physical punishment in Wales or the long-term trauma caused to children as a result of it.

“I’m pleased to see the Welsh Government investing in raising awareness of this new law and promoting positive parenting techniques. Physical punishment simply does not work as a means of disciplining children.”

Jonathan Griffiths, president of the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru, said:

“Over the next six months we want to work alongside the Welsh Government and local safeguarding partners in each region in Wales to ensure all parents and carers are made aware of the law before it comes into force next year.

"Parenting is not easy, but there are effective means of disciplining children out there which do not need to involve the use of physical punishment.”

Notes to editors

The Deputy Minister for Social Services is available for Interview on Monday 20th, please contact

The Children’s Commissioner Sally Holland is also available to be interviewed, please contact

The Joshua family from our case study are also available for filming opportunities on Monday, please contact  

The television adverts can be viewed here: English: Welsh:

Quotes from organisations supporting the change in law are attached.

Campaign imagery is also attached.


In January 2020, the Senedd passed the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020. Its 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 it will come into force on 21 March 2022.

The law does not create a new offence – it removes a 160-year-old legal defence, which sent the message that it was acceptable for children to be physically punished by their parents or those with parental authority. 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 been outlawed in schools, children’s homes, local authority foster care homes and childcare settings.

Physical punishment is when physical force is used to punish a child. Smacking is most commonly thought of as physical punishment but it can take many forms, including hitting, slapping and shaking.

Attitudes towards physical punishment have changed – fewer parents and guardians of young children in Wales today support physical punishment. What was seen as acceptable 30 years ago is less so now.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is the basis for the Welsh Government’s policy on children. Prohibiting the physical punishment of children is in accordance with article 19 of the UNCRC – the right to protection from all forms of violence. Once the law comes into force, Wales will join more than 60 nations worldwide, which have outlawed physical punishment towards a child.

The funding announced today comprises up to £500,000 preparatory funding for local authorities in 2021-22 and up to £810,000 per annum for the following three years, for delivery of bespoke parenting support.

More information about the legislation can be found at:  

More information about positive parenting, including resources to help parents, is available at Parenting. Give it Time: