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I am delighted that Scotland has now 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 by a significant majority - 84 votes to 29 - by the Scottish Parliament last week.

Parents and carers are currently allowed to use 'reasonable physical force' to discipline their children.

But, when it comes into force, the Scottish legislation will remove the current 'justifiable assault' defence, which allows parents to use physical punishment to admonish a child, giving youngsters the same protection from assault as adults.

The smacking ban bill, introduced by Scottish Greens MSP John Finnie, won the support of the SNP, Labour and Lib Dems as well as his own party and many children's charities.

It was opposed by the Scottish Conservatives, who claimed the bill was bad legislation that risks criminalising 'good parents' for using 'reasonable chastisement'.

What nonsense! By granting children equal protection against assault, Holyrood has set an example for the rest of the UK.

There can be no justification for smacking a child - when is it ever right to raise your hand against someone who is smaller, weaker and emotionally immature?

Smacking goes against all the values parents teach their children.

From a very early age we try to instil a moral compass and principles which include that is never acceptable to strike out at someone - even in anger.

There are far more effective ways of disciplining children than smacking and there isn't even any reliable evidence that it makes the slightest bit of difference to children's behaviour.

Yes, they may be more obedient if they fear another smack, but the effect is only short-lived.

However, there is proof that has been accumulating for decades that violent punishments are more harmful than beneficial to young people’s emotional development and mental health.

And, unsurprisingly, parents who smack their children are less likely to have a good relationship with them as it can lead to resentment and anger.

There's also the longer term effects, with clear evidence that adults smacked as children are at higher risk of low self-esteem, depression and even alcohol dependence.

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 parents in England and Northern Ireland will still be permitted to use what can only be described as physical violence to punish or discipline their children...provided it can be considered 'reasonable punishment' and does not cause injuries or bruising.

This needs to change and I wholeheartedly support those who call for smacking to be banned across the whole of the UK.

It's worth remembering corporal punishment in schools was banned by parliament in 1986 and, since 2010, nursery workers, child care workers and tutors in England are not permitted to smack youngsters.