After proposed changes to laws in Scotland and Wales, parents in England will have to be mindful of how they punish their children.

England will soon be the only country in the UK which still allows parents to legally smack their children.

Scotland and Wales are set to change laws to outlaw the legal defence for parents to use this punishment. However, for the time being this is still legal in both countries.

In a recent speech, the Welsh Minister for Children, Huw Irranca-Davies, said physical punishment of children has "no place" in a "modern and progressive" society.

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According to Wales Online , the country will remove the legal defence that currently protects parents - the same stance Scotland announced last month.

That will leave England as the only place where parents are legally still allowed to smack their children and could cause problems for any English parents taking their children over the borders.

So what is the current law?

According to charity Child Law Advice, smacking is illegal here in England, but has a legal defence of "reasonable punishment" under section 58 of the Children Act 2004. This only applies to parents and legal guardians.

But what that is defined as is not set out in law so is a grey area and depends on each individual case. Factors such as the age of the child and the nature of the strike are considerations.

But it is illegal for teachers, nursery staff and care workers to smack children. Privately-hired carers such as nannies or babysitters may smack, but only if permission has been given by the parents.

Smacking a child becomes illegal when it is seen as an offence under other legislation - such as wounding, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm or child cruelty.

For example this could be leaving marks on a child or using an implement such as a cane or belt.

The NSPCC has approved of the Welsh Assembly's proposals, saying: “Every child deserves equal protection under the law and should be protected from such draconian forms of discipline.

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"It is wrong that a defence which does not exist in a case of common assault against an adult can be used to justify striking a child."

Anyone who is concerned about a child should contact them on 0808 800 5000.

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