Skip to content

Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn - Isle of Anglesey County Council

Ending physical punishment

21 March 2022

21 March 2022 was a historic moment for children and their rights in Wales. From this day on, physically punishing children is illegal in Wales.

We want to protect children and their rights, to help give them the best start in life.

What is physical punishment?

There are lots of types of physical punishment. 

It can mean:

  • smacking
  • hitting
  • slapping
  • shaking 

But there are other types too.

It is not possible to give a set list of what makes up physical punishment because it can be anything where a child is punished using physical force.

Research suggests that any type of physical punishment could be harmful to children.

What does the change in law mean?

  • All physical punishment is illegal in Wales.
  • It gives children the same protection from assault as adults.
  • It makes the law clearer - easier for children, parents, professionals and the public to understand.

Does it apply to everyone in Wales?

Yes, it applies to everyone - parents or anyone who is responsible for a child while the parents are absent.

And as with other laws, it applies to visitors to Wales too.

After 21 March 2022

Anyone who physically punishes a child after 21 March 2022:  

  • is breaking the law  
  • risks being arrested or charged with assault
  • may get a criminal record which is the same for any criminal offence

Information, advice and support is available for anyone who needs it, to help them find positive ways to manage children's behaviour and to help avoid such a situation ever happening.

If you are concerned about a child

  • Contact us - the details are on this page.
  • You can also call the police in an emergency or if a child is in immediate danger.

Further advice and support

  • Parenting. Give it time offers positive parenting practical hints, tips and expert advice to encourage good behaviour from children and alternatives to physical. punishment. Their parenting support page offers links to further support and helplines.
  • Universal parenting support and advice is provided by midwives, health visitors, GPs and Teulu Môn.
  • Early help programmes such as Flying Start and Families First.
If you need a more accessible version, please email so that we can help you.

Ending physical punishment campaign from Welsh Government