24 April 2020
From today, Friday, 24 April, Jersey is the first place in the British Isles to ban smacking children.
The new law comes into force today that ends the defence of reasonable chastisement, meaning parents, carers, legal guardians could face prosecution for any use of physical punishment on their children.
The new Law means that children now have the same legal protection as adults from assault, so that smacking, hitting or slapping a child is not permitted in any circumstances.
Last Friday, 17 April, the Royal Court of Jersey officially registered the Children and Education (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 2020, which allowed one week’s notice for the law to come into force.
The issue was first considered by the Assembly in January 2019, when it voted to adopt Deputy Mary Le Hegarat’s proposition to repeal the defence of reasonable corporal punishment. The Law was debated and adopted by the States Assembly on 12 December, 2020 and approved by the Privy Council this month.
Children’s Minister Senator Sam Mézec said it was a historic day for Jersey and would stop parents, carers or legal guardians using physical violence as punishment of children.
Senator Mézec said: “I’m proud that Jersey has taken this step and once again puts children’s rights at the heart of what we do. As some of the most vulnerable members of society, children deserve more, not less, protection under the law. This Law provides a clear statement that the use of any form of physical punishment against children is no longer acceptable in Jersey.
“Times have changed and there is no place in a modern society for the physical punishment of children. Jersey is now the first place in the British Isles to remove the defense of “reasonable punishment” that has been in force since Victorian times.
“The new Law is an important milestone on our way to making Jersey the best place for children to grow up and a historic day in putting children first.”
The Government has launched a public awareness campaign called Stop Smacking Seek Support to ensure that parents and carers can find the support they need to approach children’s behaviour without resorting to smacking.
There are several different agencies and professionals in Jersey where parents and carers can seek support, including:
- Children and Families Hub
- Parenting Support Services
- Family Nursing and Home Care
- NSPCC Jersey
An Island-wide text message is due to be sent from 11 am Friday, 24 April reinforcing the message that safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility. It will include the contact details for anyone who needs support from the new Children and Families Hub.
A leaflet, in English, Portuguese and Polish, outlining the details about the Smacking Ban law, what it means and where to get support will be delivered safely, by Jersey Post, to every home next week as part of the public awareness campaign.