Legislation to completely outlaw physical chastisement of children is likely to pass through the Scottish parliament in the coming months, after the SNP government in Edinburgh announced it would support the measure to abolish the defence of "justifiable assault" in Scottish criminal law. There will now be pressure for the rest of the UK to follow suit.
When it comes to the family courts in England and Wales, physical chastisement is not necessarily considered an absolute bar to a child spending time with a parent. However, an ongoing pattern of incidents, or particularly serious incidents involving a child being struck around the head or with an implement, will very often lead to unsupervised face to face contact being stopped.
It will be interesting to see if the criminal law reforms set to take place in Scotland prompt similar action in England and Wales, and whether this contributes to a shift in attitudes towards physical chastisement of children in the family courts.
Smacking children to be banned in Scotland