Equal protection for children in Scotland follows Churchill Fellow’s research

Published: 24 Oct 2019

Equal protection for children in Scotland follows Churchill Fellow’s research

Professor Andrew Rowland’s research into child abuse has informed the Scottish Government’s decision to legislate against parents using physical punishment towards their children, including smacking

The new law was passed in the Scottish parliament in October 2019. It removes a defence in law which previously permitted parents to use physical force to discipline their children in certain circumstances. 

Legislation to prevent physical punishment of children was recommended by Andrew in his 2014 Churchill Fellow’s report, Living on a Railway Line. He also recommended the legislation in a paper published in the International Journal of Children’s Rights which he co-authored with academics from Australia and the USA.

The article was supplied to the Scottish Government during its consultation on the bill. It was also referenced by the Scottish Human Rights Commission in its response to the consultation. 

A similar bill was introduced to the Welsh Assembly earlier this year and legislative change is expected to be introduced soon. Smacking remains legal in England and Northern Ireland in certain circumstances. 

Andrew said, “Whilst some members of the public will see this as a Scottish Smacking Ban, it is actually about giving children the same protection from assault that adults have. I’m really pleased that our work following my Churchill Fellowship report has contributed to the introduction of legislation in Scotland, and I’m looking forward to similar legislation being introduced in Wales as soon as possible. 

“This legislation will really protect and promote the rights of children and young people. 

“Of course, that does still leave Northern Ireland and England devoid of the legal protection that children deserve, need and are entitled to. It is therefore vital – to protect and promote the wellbeing of children living in England and Northern Ireland – that equal protection from assault legislation is introduced rapidly, to prohibit physical punishment of children in those countries too”.

Andrew with staff at a community clinic during his overseas travels

Above: Andrew visits a community clinic during his Fellowship travels to South East Asia

Andrew is Honorary Professor (Paediatrics) at the University of Salford, Consultant in Children's Emergency Medicine in Manchester and Chair of the charity SicKids. His Churchill Fellowship explored solutions to child abuse and exploitation in South East Asia and the USA. 

Andrew was awarded the Association Medal by the British Medical Association in 2017 to recognise his distinguished service to the association and contribution to medicine. In 2019, he was awarded the Gold Decoration of Honour by the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) to recognise his extraordinary contributions to the work and development of UEMS and in recognition of outstanding achievements for the benefit of the medical profession across Europe.

Read Andrew’s report 

Read more about the Scottish child protection law

Read more about the proposed Welsh child protection law