Scottish Quakers stand up to violence against children

Friends in Scotland have made a submission to the Human Rights Committee on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill

Quakers in Scotland made the news last week as they welcomed a change in the law regarding the physical punishment of children.

General Meeting for Scotland made a submission to the Equalities and Human Rights Committee on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill. The bill would remove the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ which can be used to justify physical force against a child.

The bill would bring Scotland in line with recommendations from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and with more than fifty other countries.

The submission, which was reported in The Times, the Daily Mail and The Herald, says: ‘Quakers believe that non-violence is something that needs practice throughout a lifetime, and that the grounding for a non-violent life starts in childhood. We therefore welcome this positive move towards Scotland becoming a more non-violent nation. However, we also feel that a law alone is not enough, and that to create lasting cultural change education, training, support and compassion needs to be offered to those who struggle to meet the requirements of the bill.’

They add that the bill is ‘a good first step.’ But ‘we would also caution that the aim of eradicating violence against children will need more work over a long time.’

The purpose of the bill is to end physical punishment of children by parents or carers. The Member’s Bill was brought by MSP John Finnie in September 2018. It is currently at stage one of the process.

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