Physical punishment is prohibited in all maintained and full-time independent schools, in children’s homes, in local authority foster homes and early years provision; the prohibitions have different enforcement mechanisms.

Any use of force can be charged as a criminal offence. However, in cases where the punishment is mild and where the person administering it is a parent or acting in place of a parent (in loco parentis) they are able to argue that they administered a “reasonable punishment”. This is the reasonable punishment defence.

This report by the Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children into physical punishment in various settings aims to determine if this is an area in which change was needed in order to strengthen the safeguards for children.

More information about the Chief Adviser on the Safety of Children


  • Foreword
  • Executive Summary
  • Background
  • Approach
  • Findings
  • Extending the ban on physical punishment
  • Annex