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Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission launches new podcast series

10 Aug 2023

The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) has today launched a new podcast series, ‘Shared Goals’. The six-part series will cover a variety of human rights issues including poverty, disability, women’s rights and climate change. Shared Goals is hosted by the Commission and will hear from academics, practitioners, and activists in their conversations.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Chief Commissioner of NIHRC, Alyson Kilpatrick, said:

"I am delighted to announce the launch of our new podcast series, ‘Shared Goals’, which follows on from the success of our sport and human rights series ‘Rights at the Finish Line’. The issues discussed in the series are very topical and indeed very pressing regarding human rights in Northern Ireland. I am hopeful that the conversations will add to the discussion around these important topics and help to raise awareness of their impact on human rights. The first episode in the series focuses on the issue of equal protection from physical punishment for children in Northern Ireland and we’re grateful to Caroline Cunningham from the NSPCC for joining us and for sharing her expertise."

The first episode released in the series discusses equal protection from physical punishment to mark International Youth Day (12 August). The podcast explores issues such as the physical punishment of children. Whilst Scotland, Wales and Ireland have reformed their laws on this issue, in Northern Ireland it remains lawful for a parent or someone caring for or in charge of a child to use physical punishment, through a legal defence of ‘reasonable punishment’. This means that children are afforded less protection from assault than adults.

Caroline Cunningham, Acting Policy and Public Affairs Manager at NSPCC, said:

"At NSPCC Northern Ireland, we’ve long been calling for the removal of the legal defence of “reasonable punishment” to give children the same protection from assault as adults. Currently, the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 provides for this defence for parents and carers who are accused of assault against a child.

"Changing this law would bring Northern Ireland in line with over 60 other countries, including Wales, Scotland, Jersey and the Republic of Ireland. As the law stands currently, it leaves children in Northern Ireland with less protection from assault than their peers in most other parts of the UK and Ireland. The moves in these other countries reflect a growing evidence base on the detrimental effects of, and changing public attitudes to, physical punishment of children.

"We are also calling for this change to be supported by the introduction of more support for families in Northern Ireland on more effective ways of managing children’s behaviour, such as positive parenting."

For more information on using positive parenting, including ways to set clear and consistent boundaries, parents and carers can visit the NSPCC website at Support for parents | NSPCC

To listen to the conversation visit here: Equal protection from physical punishment of children in Northern Ireland - Shared Goals | Podcast on Spotify

Notes to Editor

In our 2022 Annual Statement we made the below recommendations on the physical punishment of children:

The Commission recommends that the Department of Justice expeditiously repeals the defence of reasonable chastisement of a child and devises and implements a strategy to effectively promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline and respect for children’s equal right to human dignity and physical integrity, with a view to eliminating the use of physical punishment in child-rearing in NI.

The Commission recommends that, when developing or implementing any laws or policies on the physical punishment of children, the Department of Justice considers the extent to which Windsor Framework Article 2 is engaged and ensures that there is no diminution to the rights and safeguards which fall within its scope.

You can read more at this link to the Annual Statement: Publication - Annual Statement 2022 | Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (

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