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 Thursday afternoon.

Scotland is now the 58th country in the world to have an outright ban on smacking. The Republic of Ireland banned smacking in 2015 and Wales is also now close to an outright ban with a bill currently working its way through the Welsh assembly.

In a statement from NSPCC Northern Ireland following positive vote by Scottish MSPs on the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) Bill  a spokesperson said: “This historic vote by Scottish MSPs is a logical and hugely significant step which will give children their rightful protection in law against assault and the same safeguards as adults.

“The NSPCC has long campaigned for this development, which will bring Scotland into line with dozens of other countries around the world including the Republic of Ireland.

“However, the sterling work in Scotland has placed a renewed focus on the issue in Northern Ireland. While we still might not have a functioning assembly here, it is imperative that work can still continue behind the scenes by all parties to put children at the top of the agenda.

“Assaulting a child can lead to lasting consequences and growing evidence shows that physical punishment increases aggression, anti-social behaviour and depression and anxiety in children, which may continue into their adult lives.

“It is time that Northern Ireland now follows the example of Scotland to ensure local children receive the same legal protection from violence as adults.”

Adults who want advice on positive parenting or have any concerns about a child can call the NSPCC’s Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

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