AN ASSEMBLY Member has welcomed the first steps to end physical punishment of children.

Jack Sargeant, AM for Alyn and Deeside, has supported the introduction of legislation to end the physical punishment of children.

The Welsh Government has introduced the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill to the National Assembly.

If the Bill is passed, parents and other adults acting in a parental capacity will no longer be able to physically punish children – giving children the same protection from physical punishment as adults.

The Bill will do this by abolishing the common law defence of reasonable punishment so that any adult acting in a parental capacity cannot use it as a defence if accused of assault or battery against a child, meaning they can no longer legally physically punish a child.

Mr Sargeant said: "This Bill is about sending a clear message, that the physical punishment of children is not acceptable.

"I fully support the this bill and have spoken to the Welsh Government about the need for a comprehensive information campaign, to accompany this change.

"What may have been deemed as appropriate in the past is no longer acceptable. Our children must feel safe and be treated with dignity.

"More than 50 nations across the world have already responded to the international call to end the physical punishment of children."

The introduction of the Bill builds on the Welsh Government’s commitment to children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Research published last year suggests attitudes to the physical punishment of children are changing. It found 81 per cent of parents of young children in Wales disagreed that 'it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child' – a significant increase from 71 per cent in 2015.

The Parental Attitudes Towards Managing Young Children's Behaviour 2017 survey also found only 11 per cent of parents with young children reported they had smacked their children in the last six months as a way of managing their behaviour, half that in 2015 at 22 per cent.