Smacking ban and action on eating disorders in Wales

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Children's wellbeing: Wales moves to ban smacking and acts to improve support for those suffering from eating disorders

Smacking

Legislation to outlaw smacking in Wales took another step forward as Assembly members gave it their support.

In the first debate in the Senedd on the Bill, AMs voted 35 to 15 to back the principle of ending “reasonable punishment” as a defence for assaulting children.

If the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) Wales Bill is passed, parents and other adults acting in a parental capacity will no longer be able to physically punish children.

Tory and Brexit Party members said loving parents could be criminalised by the legislation, but deputy health minister Julie Morgan said there was nothing more important than protecting vulnerable children.

The debate was the final part of the stage one process, which has heard evidence from a variety of organisations and representatives, including the police, local authorities, children’s services and health services, who have all backed the Bill. It has also received support from a number of children’s charities.

The children’s commissioner for Wales, Julie Morgan, said: “There is no reason to ever hit a child, something that has resonated with others when the Bill has been discussed. Now is the time for Wales to join more than 55 other nations across the world who have taken steps to end the physical punishment of children.”

Eating disorders

Following a review of eating disorder services, the health and social services minister in Wales, Vaughan Gething, has announced a number of measures to better support young sufferers.

The review’s 22 recommendations include a more joined-up approach between agencies and more education and training for teachers to help identify pupils they think may be suffering from an eating disorder.

Experts say that early intervention and more timely support is key.

Mr Gething has written to health boards to request they come up with their own incremental plans for change. He wants them to reconfigure services so there is more early intervention and to achieve a four-week waiting time across adult and child services within two years.

He admitted that a lot of work needed to be done but said progress was being made in other areas identified in the review. He said: “This includes our ‘whole school approach’ where we are intervening in a systematic way at a critical point ... to support improvements to emotional health and wellbeing and to enable access to support at an earlier stage.”

He added: “The review sets out an ambitious analysis for how eating disorder services should look in Wales in the future. I am committed to ensuring that our services are shaped by the recommendations.”


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