24 Nov 2005

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams, said today that proposed changes in the law on physical punishment were only a first step to providing adequate protection to children.

Mr Williams said: “Commissioners for Children throughout Europe have agreed that only a total ban on physical punishment meets the standards of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

The law in England and Wales offers only a partial ban on physical punishment which the Commissioner said is confusing for parents.

Mr Williams also urged the Government to bring in measures to support positive parenting, and promote alternatives to physical punishment.

“I understand that many people have very strongly held views on disciplining children, but we all need to think about how we can best support parents and children.”

Mr Williams called on the Government, in the forthcoming 10-year children’s strategy, to introduce measures to support parents in making positive choices in discipline for their children.

“I am very conscious that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says children should not be physically punished, and that young people in Northern Ireland have told me they think it is wrong,” he said.

Notes for Editors

  • The announcement by Lord Rooker on proposed changes to legislation can be found at:www.nics.gov.uk/press/ofmdfm/051124d-ofmdfm.htm
  • Further information on the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People can be found at www.niccy.org