21 October 2019
The Minister for Children and Housing, Senator Sam Mézec, has lodged the draft Children and Education (Amendment) (Jersey) Law to end the use of physical punishment in Jersey.
If the draft Law is approved by the States Assembly, Jersey would follow Scotland as only the second place in the British Isles where children will have the same protection from physical punishment as adults.
The draft Law will do this by abolishing the customary law defence of reasonable corporal punishment so that any adult acting in a parental capacity cannot use it as a defence if accused of assault against a child – meaning they can no longer legally physically punish a child.
Senator Mézec said “This sends a clear message that the physical punishment of children is no longer acceptable in Jersey.
“It builds on our commitment to children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and shows that this government means it when we say we will put children first.”
The legislation gives effect to the States Assembly’s decision in January 2019 to adopt Deputy Mary Le Hegarat’s proposition to repeal the defence of reasonable corporal punishment. It is the first of several changes which are due to be introduced under the Children’s Legislation Transformation Programme.
The draft Law will be accompanied by an awareness-raising campaign and support for professionals who work with children and families. This will be led by the Safeguarding Partnership Board.
Sarah Elliott, the Pan Island Independent Chair for Safeguarding Partnership Boards, said: “The Safeguarding Partnership Board will ensure that safeguarding training and practice guidance accessed by professionals working with children and families is in line with the legislation if this is approved.”
Support in dealing with parenting challenges and guidance in positive parenting techniques is already provided by the Government’s parenting support services. Information on how to book a place on the Triple P Programme is available on the Government of Jersey’s website.