Scotland has become the first country in the UK to make it a criminal offence for parents to smack their children.
The ban on all physical punishment was backed overwhelmingly by 84 votes to 29 by the Scottish Parliament on October 3 2019.
The move will give children in Scotland the same protection from assault as adults when it comes into force.
Parents and carers are currently allowed to use “reasonable” physical force to discipline their children.
The smacking ban bill was introduced by Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie, a former police officer, who won the support of the SNP, Labour and Lib Dems as well as his own party and many children’s charities.
Mr Finnie said smacking teaches children that “might is right”, and that the ban would “send a strong message that violence is never acceptable in any setting”.
He also said there was “irrefutable” evidence that physical punishment damages children, is not an effective form of discipline and can escalate into physical abuse.
The ban was opposed by the Scottish Conservatives, who claimed the bill was bad legislation that risks criminalising “good parents” for using “reasonable chastisement”.
But the Scottish government’s children’s minister, Maree Todd, insisted that “loving parents” would not be criminalised.
Sweden became the first country in the world to ban smacking in the home when it outlawed corporal punishment in 1979 – with Scotland becoming the 58th to do so.
Wales is also on the verge of introducing a ban – but there are not currently any plans for England or Northern Ireland to follow suit.
In Scots Law, all physical attacks on adults can be treated as assault – but children do not have the same protection.
This is because a person accused of assaulting of a child can claim a defence of “reasonable chastisement” or “justifiable assault” when they have used physical force as a form of discipline on children under the age of 16.
When deciding whether the chastisement was reasonable, the courts take into account factors such as the nature of the punishment, its duration and frequency, the age of the child and the effect – both physical and mental – it had on them.
In practice, this generally means parents are allowed to smack their children on the body – but blows to the head, shaking or the use of an implement are illegal.
All physical punishment in schools and other education settings is already completely banned.
The bill will end the defence of reasonable chastisement, meaning parents could face prosecution for any use of physical punishment on their children.
This will give children the exact same protection from assault as adults.
The bill uses the same definition of physical punishment, sometimes referred to as corporal punishment, used by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
It includes hitting such as smacking, slapping and smacking with a hand or an implement, as well as kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion.