THE number of parents in Wales who smack their children has halved since 2015, new research has shown.

The new report published by the Welsh Government following a study carried out in 2017 has shown 11 per cent of parents with young children said they had smacked their children in the past six months - down from 22 per cent from two years earlier.

And 81 per cent now say they do not believe "it is sometimes necessary to smack a naughty child" - up from 71 per cent in 2015.

The Parental Attitudes Towards Managing Young Children's Behaviour 2017 report has been released as the Welsh Government is considering putting in measures to stop parents from smacking their children.

It is already illegal to physically punish a child, except where it amounts to ‘reasonable punishment’. And the Welsh Government proposal would not make smacking a criminal offence, but rather remove the 'reasonable punishment' defence in assault or battery cases.

Minister for children, older people and social care Huw Irranca-Davies welcomed the findings.

“I am very pleased to see from this research that so few parents think that smacking a child in sometimes necessary, and that fewer parents are using physical punishment to manage their child’s behaviour," he said.

“This is exactly the culture change we want to see happening in Wales.

"While it’s great to see that 81 per cent of parents think it’s never acceptable to smack a child, as a government, we want to ensure every parent recognises that it’s never acceptable to smack a child.

"This is why we intend to bring forward legislation to make it clear that physically punishing a child is no longer acceptable in Wales.”

The research also showed the number of parents who said they would smack their child under certain circumstances was down from 44 per cent to 31 per cent, and only five per cent said they were comfortable with the idea. And 26 per cent said they did not like the idea but would do it if nothing else worked.

The number of parents agreeing smacking should be banned was also up slightly from 46 per cent to 48 per cent, while those disagreeing was down from 43 per cent to 39 per cent.

Alternatives to smacking suggested by parents who took part in the study included praising and encouraging good behaviour, developing routines, saying no, and telling children off.