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Change in the law on hitting children

From 7 November 2020, parents and carers who hit their children will no longer be able to argue that it was reasonable if they are prosecuted for assault.

This means that children will have the same legal protection from physical violence as adults. 

This is because the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2020 comes fully into force on 7 November. 

The new law does not apply to anything that happened before 7 November 2020. If a parent or carer hit a child before that date and was prosecuted for assault, they could still argue that it was reasonable. They could do so by relying on the 'reasonable chastisement' defence. This was a limited defence as some forms of violence could never be justified. It was never justifiable to use a blow to the head, to shake the child or to use an implement. The 'reasonable chastisement' defence is being abolished from 7 November. 

It is hoped that the law will bring about an end to the use of physical punishment of children in Scotland.