7 things it’s illegal for parents to do in the UK


If you break these laws, you could face fines or even jail time.

Here are things that are illegal for parents to do in the UK:

Slapping or hitting your child

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Things that are illegal for parents to do.

In Wales it is illegal to use any form of corporal punishment on your child – this includes spanking, slapping.

This law entered into force in March 2022.

Scotland has also made it illegal to physically punish your child in 2020 – including slapping and spanking – meaning children have the same protection from assault as adults.

In England it is illegal to hit your child, but there is an exemption if it amounts to ‘reasonable punishment’.

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Leave your child alone

The law doesn’t say an age at which you can leave a child alone, but it is an offense to leave a child alone if it would endanger them.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) states:

– children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for long periods of time

– children under 16 should not be left alone overnight

– babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone

Parents can be sued if they leave a child unattended “in a way likely to cause unnecessary suffering or damage to health”.

Using the wrong car seat

There are laws regarding the use of child car seats in vehicles in the UK.

Who? says that “the law states that children must use a child car seat until the age of 12 or up to 135cm / 4ft 5in, whichever comes first”.

Drivers should also ensure that children wear seat belts.

If you are found guilty, you risk a fine.

Let your child skip school regularly

It is illegal to let your child skip school on a regular basis.

A few days of sickness are understandable, but if your child misses school often, you risk a stay in prison.

Under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, a maximum sentence of three months in prison is imposed on parents of persistent school absenteeism.

There are exemptions for homeschooled children.

Give them booze

It is illegal in the UK to give alcohol to a child under 5.

Buy alcohol for children

It is illegal to buy alcohol from anyone under the age of 18.

Taking a child abroad without the permission of both parents

If you have joint custody of your children, you should be careful if you plan to go on holiday abroad.

By law, it is illegal to take a child out of the country without the permission of both parents.

It is considered kidnapping if you take a child abroad without their consent.


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