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Review of Section 58 of the Children Act 2004, 25/10/07 [W/E]

The report of the Review of Section 58 of the Children Act 2004 was published on 25 October 2007. Section 58 of the Children Act 2004 limits the defence of reasonable punishment so that parents who have caused actual bodily harm to a child cannot use it.  The review was carried out to review the practical consequences of the changes to the law and to seek parents’ views on smacking.  It involved a consultation, a parental survey, a children and young people’s survey and additional evidence.

The report concludes that:

“a. It is clear that section 58 has improved legal protection for children by restricting the use of the reasonable punishment defence in court proceedings;

b. It is not clear whether section 58 has had any significant practical consequences for those working with children and families day to day, but there are no reported significant practical problems with its operation;

c. The Crown Prosecution Service’s Charging Standard has clarified the boundary between what constitutes common assault and what constitutes assault occasioning actual bodily harm;

d. Attitudes and behaviour amongst parents are changing, with younger parents less likely to use smacking as a method of discipline than older parents.”

It states that the Government will retain the law in its current form.

The report and consultation responses can be downloaded from the Department for Children, Schools and Families website.

Welsh Assembly Government Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, Jane Hutt, issued a press release welcoming the findings of the survey.  Her comments can be viewed on the Welsh Assembly Government website.