No place for physical punishment in a modern Wales

Physically punishing children is illegal in Wales. This was made into law on March 21, 2022 in a historic moment for children and their rights in Wales, to help give them the best start in life.

What is physical punishment?

There are lots of types of physical punishment.

It can mean smacking, hitting, slapping and shaking – but there are other types too.

It isn’t possible to give a set list of what makes up physical punishment because it can be anything where a child is punished using physical force.

Research suggests that any type of physical punishment could be harmful to children.

What does the law mean?

  • All physical punishment is illegal in Wales.
  • Children have the same protection from assault as adults.

Does the law apply to everybody in Wales?

Yes, it applies to everyone - parents or anyone who is responsible for a child while the parents are absent.

As with other laws, it applies to visitors to Wales too.

Physical punishment is also illegal in schools, children’s homes, local authority foster care homes and childcare settings.

What happens if someone physically punishes a child?

Anyone who physically punishes a child:

  • will be breaking the law  
  • risks being arrested or charged with assault
  • may get a criminal record which is the same for any criminal offence

Advice and support

Advice and support is available for anyone who needs it, to help them find positive ways to manage children's behaviour.

Universal parenting support and advice is provided by midwives, health visitors, GPs and Wrexham’s Family Information Service (external link).

There are also early help programmes like Flying Start and Families First (external link).

What should I do if I see a child being physically punished or if I am concerned about a child?

You can contact the Children’s Single Point of Access. If you believe a child is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.

More information