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What other countries think about “spanking”

The following is from End All Corporal Punishment. Thank You!!

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COUNTRIES WITH FULL ABOLITION

In the following 24 countries, children are protected by law from all corporal punishment (most recent first):
Republic of Moldova (2008) Costa Rica (2008) Spain (2007)
Venezuela (2007) Uruguay (2007) Portugal (2007)
New Zealand (2007) Netherlands (2007) Greece (2006)
Hungary (2005) Romania (2004) Ukraine (2004)
Iceland (2003) Germany (2000) Israel (2000)
Bulgaria (2000) Croatia (1999) Latvia (1998)
Denmark (1997) Cyprus (1994) Austria (1989)
Norway (1987) Finland (1983) Sweden (1979)

In addition, in Italy in 1996 the Supreme Court in Rome declared all corporal punishment to be unlawful; this is not yet confirmed in legislation.

In Nepal in 2005, the Supreme Court declared null and void the legal defence in the Child Act allowing parents, guardians and teachers to administer a “minor beating”; the Child Act is yet to be amended to confirm this.

Republic of Moldova

In 2008, the Family Code (2001) was amended to recognise the right of children to protection from all corporal punishment and to explicitly prohibit its use by parents and others with parental authority.

Article 53 of the Code, on “The right of the child to be protected”, states in paragraph 4:

“The minor has the right to be protected against abuses, including corporal punishment by his parents or persons who replace them.”

Article 62, on “Parents’ rights”, states in paragraph 2:

“Methods to educate children, chosen by parents, will exclude abusive behaviour, insults and ill-treatments of all types, discrimination, psychological and physical violence, corporal punishments ….”

To support the law reform and its implementation, in November 2008 the Information Office of the Council of Europe in Moldova launched the Council of Europe Campaign to abolish corporal punishment, “Raise your hand against smacking”, at a round table event held at Parliament. The launch of the campaign was attended by MPs, members of the Parliamentary Committee for Social Protection, Health and Family, the Deputy Minister of Social Protection, Family and Child, representatives from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, UNICEF, UNDP and national children’s rights NGOs. It received good media coverage. Following presentation of the campaign, there were constructive discussions and debates on the need to adopt national policies to combat all forms of violence against children and to strengthen cooperation between the Moldovan Parliament, the Government and civil society on this issue.

Costa Rica

Corporal punishment is prohibited in all settings and by all persons with authority over children, including by parents in the home, under a law enacted in June 2008. Up to this time, corporal punishment had been lawful under article 143 of the Family Code, which stated that “paternal authority confers rights and imposes the duty to educate, are for, watch over and, with moderation, correct the son or daughter”. The Code on Children and Adolescents protected children from abuse and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (article 13) and to physical, psychological and moral integrity (article 24), but did not prohibit all corporal punishment of children.

In October 2005, the Criminal Court of Cassation of the Second Circuit Court of San Jose stated that article 143 of the Family Code could “in no way be interpreted as a general authorization for parents or guardians of minors to hurt them without being punished for that action or simply to dispose of their lives as they please” and that “even though vested with parental rights and duties have no ‘right’ to hurt their children” (Judgment: 2005-1062, Case No. 02-002448-0369-PE-(3)).

In June 2008, article 143 of the Family Code was amended to state:

“Parental authority confers the rights and imposes the duties to orient, educate, care, supervise and discipline the children, which in no case authorizes the use of corporal punishment or any other form of degrading treatment against the minors.”

At the same time, a new article was added to the Code on Children and Adolescents, as part of the provisions on “The Rights of Personality”. Article 24bis is entitled “The right to discipline free from corporal punishment and other degrading forms of treatment”, and explicitly prohibits all forms of corporal punishment in all settings:

“Children and adolescents have a right to receive counseling, education, care and discipline from their mother, father or tutor, as well as from their caretakers or the personnel from educational and health centers, shelters, youth detention or any other type of centers, that in no way represents an authorization of any sort to these parties for the use of corporal punishment or degrading treatment.

The Patronato Nacional de la Infancia shall coordinate with the institutions conforming to the National Integral Protection System and NGOs, for the implementation of educational campaigns and programs directed to parents and other adults in custodial or caring roles.”

Significantly, a report issued by the Legislative Ad-hoc Subcommission (File No. 15.34) confirms that dissenting opinions on prohibition have been taken into account in enacting prohibition. It states:

“It is important to state that the amendments hereby addressed are the result of a consensus reached by and between the various organizations promoting the project and those congressmen and congresswomen who initially opposed such initiative, since the final text takes into consideration and incorporates their points of view.”

See the full country report for Costa Rica.

Spain

Corporal punishment is prohibited in the home under a 2007 amendment to the Civil Code. The Code had previously recognized the “right” of parents and guardians to use “reasonable and moderate” forms of “correction” but these provisions have been removed from the law, ensuring that children have the same protection from assault as adults. Article 154 now states that in the exercise of their responsibility, parents/tutors must respect the physical and psychological integrity of their children.

In 1999 the Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs supported a widespread awareness-raising campaign highlighting the dangers of corporal punishment and promoting positive, non-violent forms of discipline. In November 2004, the Director of Childhood announced the Government’s intention to pursue law reform. Prohibition was achieved when Congress passed the new law on 20 December 2007. Media coverage of the reforms emphasized that the new legislation means parents may no longer smack their children in the name of discipline.

Full country report on Spain is available here.

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Venezuela

In December 2007, Venezuela enacted legislation which prohibits all corporal punishment of children, including in the home. A new article (article 32-A – “the right to good treatment”) was inserted into the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents which explicitly states that “all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited”. It puts an obligation on “parents, representatives, guardians, relatives, and teachers” to usenon-violent methods of education and discipline to raise and educate their children”, and places an obligation on the State to “ensure policies, programs and protection measures are in place to abolish all forms of physical and humiliating punishment of children and young people”.

The stated purpose of the law is clear (unofficial translation):

A new human right – the right to be treated well – has been introduced to reinforce children and young people’s status as rights-holders, and to ensure the full recognition of their dignity and personal integrity. This right includes a non-violent upbringing and education, based on love, affection, mutual understanding and respect, and solidarity. In addition to an express ban on all forms of physical and humiliating punishment, fathers, mothers, representatives, guardians, relatives and teachers have an obligation to use non-violent methods to raise, train, educate and discipline children and young people, to ensure the implementation of this right. This new regulation is a step towards achieving abolition of all forms of abuse of children and young people, and building the legal foundations for a new and peaceful society.

The full text of article 32-A – which was approved by the National Assembly in February 2007 before finally being enacted in December – states:

All children and young people have a right to be treated well. This right includes a non-violent education and upbringing, based on love, affection, mutual understanding and respect, and solidarity.

Parents, representatives, guardians, relatives, and teachers should use non-violent methods of education and discipline to raise and educate their children. Consequently, all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited. The State, with the active participation of society, must ensure policies, programs and protection measures are in place to abolish all forms of physical and humiliating punishment of children and young people.

Corporal punishment is defined as the use of force, in raising or educating children, with the intention of causing any degree of physical pain or discomfort to correct, control or change the behaviour of children and young people, provided that the act is not punishable.

Humiliating punishment can be understood as any form of offensive, denigrating, devaluing, stigmatizing or mocking, treatment, carried out to raise or educate children and young people, with the aim of disciplining, controlling or changing their behaviour, provided that the act is not punishable.

Article 358 of the amended Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents re-emphasis that the duties and rights of parents in child rearing exclude the use of corporal punishment:

The responsibility for raising children includes the shared duty and right, which is equal and non-derogable, of the father and mother to love, raise, train, educate, and look after their children, sustain and assist them financially, morally and emotionally, using appropriate corrective measures that do not violate their dignity, rights, guarantees or overall development. Consequently, all forms of physical punishment, psychological violence and humiliating treatment, which harm children and young people, are prohibited.

Corporal punishment had previously been lawful in the home  and other settings under the Civil Code provisions which recognized the imposition of “adequate/moderate correction” by parents, guardians and tutors (articles 265 and 349) and by people or entities temporarily responsible for the care of the child or adolescent (article 396).

Details of laws relating to corporal punishment of children in all settings are in the full country report for Venezuela.

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Uruguay

On 20 November 2007, a new law prohibiting all corporal punishment of children (“Proyecto de Ley Sustitutivo – Prohibición del castigo físico”) was passed by a majority vote in the House of Representatives. In August, the bill had been agreed unanimously by the Senate. The prohibition followed closely on the government’s public commitment to implement all the recommendations made in the final report of the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children, which included the recommendation to prohibit all corporal punishment of children by the year 2009.

Previously, the right of parents and others to inflict corporal punishment on children – in the guise of “moderate/adequate correction” – was recognized in the Civil Code (articles 261 and 384) and in the Children and Adolescents Code (article 16). The new law repeals these provisions and explicitly prohibits all corporal punishment and other humiliating or degrading treatment of children. It states (unofficial translation):

Article 1: Include in Law No. 17.823, of 7 September 2004 (Children and Young People’s Code), the following article:

“Article 12bis. Prohibition of physical punishment. It is prohibited for parents, guardians, and all other persons responsible for the care, treatment, education or supervision of children and adolescents, to use physical or any other kind of humiliating punishment as a form of correcting or disciplining children or adolescents.

Uruguay’s Institute for Children and Adolescents, other State institutions and civil society are jointly responsible for:

a) carrying out awareness raising and educational programmes for parents and all others responsible for the care, treatment, education or supervision of children and adolescents;

b) promoting positive, participatory and non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to physical punishment and other forms of humiliating treatment.”

Article 2: Substitute the text of paragraph F, article 16, of Law No. 17.823, of 7 September 2004 (Code for Children and Adolescents), with the following:

“f) Correct your children or proteges without the use of physical punishment or any other kind of humiliating treatment.”

Article 3: Abolish article 261 and the second and third clauses of article 384 of the Civil Code.

Details of laws relating to corporal punishment of children in all settings are in the full country report for Uruguay.

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Portugal

On 4 September 2007, the Portuguese Parliament passed Law 59/2007 which amends the Penal Code to prohibit all corporal punishment of children, including by parents. The Law came into force on 15 September. Article 152 now states:

“Whoever repeatedly, or not, inflicts physical or psychological ill-treatment, including corporal punishment, deprivation of liberty and sexual offenses, is punished with 1 to 5 years of imprisonment.”

Previously, the Portuguese government had considered that the law already prohibited all corporal punishment. The Civil Code states that parent-child relations are characterized by obedience and parental authority (article 1878), but a 1994 Supreme Court decision (Supremo Tribunal de Justiça, 9 February 1994) had ruled that this does not give parents the right to use physical aggression in child rearing. And an earlier decision by the Supreme Court (18 December 1991) stated that a simple slap which caused no injury and no physical or mental suffering was considered a “light corporal assault” and so was covered by article 143.1 of the Criminal Code which punishes “whoever causes bodily injury or impairment of health of another”. Subsequent Supreme Court decisions (21 January 1999 and 4 March 1999) confirmed this ruling, and a Court of Appeal decision (12 October 1999) referred to the absence of a “right” to use physical discipline in the Civil Code.

In 2003, the World Organization Against Torture brought a complaint against Portugal under the Collective Complaints procedure of the European Social Charter alleging that Portugal was in breach of article 17 of the Charter because legislation did not explicitly prohibit corporal punishment of children, including by parents. In view of the Portuguese case law described above, the European Committee of Social Rights concluded by 9 votes to 4 that there was no violation of Article 17 of the Revised Social Charter because section 143 of the Criminal Code as interpreted by the Supreme Court provided a legal prohibition of all forms of corporal punishment of children and that no legal provision authorised the use of corporal punishment of children (Resolution ResChS(2005)1, Collective complaint No. 20/2003 by the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) against Portugal, adopted by the Council of Ministers on 20 April 2005).

But on 5 April 2006, the Supreme Court overturned its previous interpretation of legislation in ruling that slaps and spankings are “legal” and “acceptable”, and that failure to use these methods of punishment could even amount to “educational neglect”. The Supreme Court’s judgment stated:

“As far as the children in question is concerned … the acts with which the defendant is charged should, in our view, be considered lawful.

In the upbringing of the human being moderate punishment that can be corporal or other forms of punishment is justified….

‘Who being a good parent does not, once or twice, slap the bottom of the child refusing to go to school? Does not slap the child who throws a knife at him? Or punishes a child by sending it to his room when it does not want to eat?

As for the first two, we can even say that if the person having the lawful control or charge of the child would refrain from acting, then yes, that would amount to educational neglect. Many children refuse at times to go to the school. Because of its outmost importance, going to school has to be strongly imposed. It is obvious that in case of repeated school phobia, it would be advisable to find out the reasons and even get professional counseling. But should it happen once or twice, slapping (always moderate) the bottom is part of the method of upbringing.

Similarly, to throw a knife and what’s more at the person raising him, justifies, within the framework of a stable upbringing, emphasizing to the child that it did wrong and let it see the possible consequences. A slap in the heat of the moment cannot be considered extreme….’”

The World Organization Against Torture submitted a second complaint under the collective complaints procedure in May 2006. This time the European Committee of Social Rights found the situation in Portugal to be in breach of article 17 of the Revised Charter because there is no explicit prohibition in law of all corporal punishment of children, including in the home. In its decision, the Committee clearly stated the need for explicit and effective prohibition of corporal punishment (Collective complaint No. 34/2006 by the World Organization against Torture (OMCT) against Portugal, Decision on the merits 5 December 2006, paragraphs 19 to 22):

“To comply with Article 17, states’ domestic law must prohibit and penalize all forms of violence against children, that is acts or behavior likely to affect the physical integrity, dignity, development or psychological well being of children.

The relevant provisions must be sufficiently clear, binding and precise, so as to preclude the courts from refusing to apply them to violence against children.

Moreover, states must act with due diligence to ensure that such violence is eliminated in practice.

The conclusion to be drawn from the Supreme Court’s decision of 5 April 2006 is that Portuguese law does not include such provisions, even though this was the interpretation that had been drawn from a previous decision of that court. In addition, the Government has not supplied information to show that the measures in practice are likely to result in the eradication of all forms of violence against children.

CONCLUSION

For these reasons, the Committee concludes unanimously as to the violation of Article 17 of the Revised Charter.”

Following this, the Government announced it would review the Criminal Code and explicitly prohibit all corporal punishment. Prohibition was finally enacted in September 2007.

Details of Portuguese laws relating to corporal punishment are in the full country report for Portugal.

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New Zealand

On 16 May 2007, the New Zealand parliament passed – by an overwhelming majority – new legislation effectively prohibiting corporal punishment of children by parents. Before the new law was introduced, the New Zealand Crimes Act (section 59) recognised the right of parents to use “reasonable force” in disciplining children. The new Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act – in force from June 2007 – removed this defense so that the criminal laws on assault apply equally to adults and to children.

In her speech to the third reading of the Bill in parliament, MP Sue Bradford – who first introduced the law as a private members bill in 2005 – emphasized the importance of recognizing that hitting children in the name of discipline is violence and is unacceptable:

“… Police, like paediatricians, see the daily consequences of what happens when people assault their kids just to teach them a lesson.

Some people say that smacking or spanking isn’t violence. I say to them – what else is it? If a burly gang member much larger than you smacked you in the pub tonight, what would you call that?

Some people say that the deaths of children [as a result of child abuse] have nothing to do with this Bill – well I say they have everything to do with it.

There is a spectrum of violence used against our babies and children and one person’s light occasional tap is another person’s beating or shaking to death, all in the name of so-called correction.”

The new law allows for the use of reasonable force for purposes of protection from danger or prevention of damage to people or property (section 1) but states clearly that “nothing in subsection (1) or in any rule of common law justifies the use of force for the purpose of correction” (section 2). It also explicitly recognizes standard police practice of exercising discretion as to whether or not to prosecute in very minor cases where there is no public interest in proceeding:

“(4) To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints against a parent of a child or person in the place of a parent of a child in relation to an offence involving the use of force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.”

Sue Bradford called for close monitoring of future case law to ensure that these provisions are not misused as legal defences for hitting children.

She also called for a well planned public information campaign on the new law and alternatives to physical discipline; an increase in funding for community groups supporting children, parents and families; research and monitoring of public attitudinal change towards corporal punishment; and for close work between government and non-governmental organizations. She concluded:

“…But in the end this Bill isn’t about us here in Parliament or indeed about adults at all.

It is about our children and what I believe is their God-given right to grow up secure in the love of their family, valued as equal citizens to the rest of us and without the constant threat of legalised violence being used against them.”

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in New Zealand.

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Netherlands

On 6 March 2007, a new law prohibiting all corporal punishment by parents and carers was passed in the Senate. The law amends the provisions in the Civil Code on parental authority so that article 1:247 now states (unofficial translation):

“(1) Parental authority includes the duty and the right of the parent to care for and raise his or her minor child. (2) Caring for and raising one’s child includes the care and the responsibility for the emotional and physical wellbeing of the child and for his or her safety as well as for the promotion of the development of his or her personality. In the care and upbringing of the child the parents will not use emotional or physical violence or any other humiliating treatment.”

Article 1:248 of the Code applies article 1:247 to all other persons acting in loco parentis.

The Cabinet agreed to proceed with prohibition in February 2005, following a government-commissioned study on the experiences of abolition in other European countries.

A Department of Justice press release at the time that the “Bill to contribute to the prevention of emotional and physical abuse of children or any other humiliating treatment of children in care and upbringing” was introduced to the Cabinet stressed that the primary purpose of the new law is “to set a standard”.

A later press release from the Department, in September 2005, emphasised that the law would bring the Netherlands into compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and article 17 of the European Social Charter, and address the recommendations made to the Netherlands government by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the European Committee of Social Rights. It also explained the anticipated impact of the ban in relation to criminal law:

“The proposal will not alter child abuse as a punishable offense under the Dutch Penal Code. The Government, however, does expect that the explicit standard in the Dutch Civil Code will have some sort of automatic effect in criminal law. As a result of the new standard, child abuse suspects will find it more difficult to justify their deeds before the court on the basis of parental disciplinary rules, which was until recently sometimes accepted as a justification. This meant that a parent, although it had been factually established that the child had been abused, could not be punished because the disciplining of the child and its upbringing were part of the parental responsibility. By introducing the Bill, the Government hopes to make it easier for care workers to discuss the use of violence as a parenting tool and to convince parents to accept help in bringing up a child.”

Following the passage of the law, a government Communication Plan to inform parents and the general public about the ban was being prepared.

Go to the full country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in the Netherlands.

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Greece

On 19 October 2006, the Greek Parliament passed Law 3500/2006 on the Combating of Intra-family Violence, under which corporal punishment of children within the family is prohibited. Article 4 of the new law states:

“Physical violence against children as a disciplinary measure in the context of their upbringing brings the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code.”

Article 1532 of the Civil Code provides for various consequences for abuse of parental authority, the most serious being the removal of parental authority by the courts. An explanatory report issued to Parliament by Ministers responsible for the introduction of the bill confirmed that “corporal punishment is not included in the permissible disciplinary measure of article 1518 of the Civil Code”. Article 1518 enshrines parents’ right to use “corrective measures” but “only if these are necessary from a pedagogic point of view and do not affect the child’s dignity”.)

The new law results from the work of the Greek Network for the Prevention and Combating of Corporal Punishment of Children, a committee of government and non-government bodies established in October 2005 specifically to draft legislation which would prohibit all corporal punishment, following an earlier finding by the European Committee of Social Rights under the Collective Complaints procedure of the European Social Charter that Greece was in violation of article 17 of the Charter because of the absence of such a prohibition (Resolution ResChS(2005)12, Collective complaint No. 17/2003 by the World Organization against Torture (OMCT) against Greece, adopted by the Council of Ministers on 8 June 2005).

Progress towards prohibition

2002
February: The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its concluding observations on the initial Greek state party report, expressed concern that corporal punishment was not prohibited in the family and that “about 60 per cent of parents practice corporal punishment of children” (CRC/C/15/Add.170, para. 42 (a)). The Committee recommended that the Greek government “prohibit all forms of violence against children, including corporal punishment, by law in all contexts, including in the family” and “undertake education and awareness campaigns to inform, among others, teachers, parents and medical and law enforcement personnel about the harm of violence, including corporal punishment, and about alternative, non-violent, forms of educating children” (para. 43 (a and b)).

2003
July: The World Organization against Torture (OMCT) lodged a complaint against Greece under the Collective Complaints procedure of the European Social Charter alleging, in relation to article 17 of the Charter (the right of mothers and children to social and economic protection), that legislation in Greece did not effectively prohibit corporal punishment of children (Collective Complaint No. 17/2003, OMCT v Greece). The European Committee of Social Rights declared the complaint admissible in December 2003.

2004
April: An informal group of experts was established, including the Greek Ombudsman (Department of Children’s Rights) to promote the abolition of corporal punishment of children in Greece and to prepare for establishing a Network for this purpose.

December: Under the Collective Complaints procedure, the European Committee of Social Rights concluded that there was a violation of article 17 of the Charter because of the absence of explicit prohibition in law of corporal punishment of children within the family, in secondary schools and in other institutions and forms of childcare (7 December 2003, Complaint No. 17/2003 Decisions on the merits).

2005
January: The European Committee of Social Rights informed the Greek government and the Committee of Ministers of its decision that there was a violation of article 17 (see above).

February: A Public Statement by the Greek Ombudsman requested that the government change the law so as to prohibit corporal punishment of children within the family.

April: The Minister of Justice formed a Committee to prepare a new Draft Law on Domestic Violence. The Deputy Ombudsman for Children’s Rights was invited to participate and to introduce proposals for the prohibition of corporal punishment

June: The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers adopted a resolution confirming the findings of the European Committee of Social Rights and noting the progress made by the Greek government towards prohibition of corporal punishment (8 June 2005, Collective Complaint No. 17/2003, Resolution ResChS(2005)12).

July: In its conclusions on examination of the Greek state party report under the reporting procedures of the European Social Charter, and in light of the findings under the Collective Complaint, the European Committee of Social Rights found the situation in Greece to be not in conformity with article 17 “on the ground that there is no prohibition in legislation of all corporal punishment of children” (Conclusions XVII-2).

October/November: The Greek Network for the Prevention and Combating of Corporal Punishment of Children, involving government and non-government organizations, was established specifically to draft legislation which would prohibit all corporal punishment. The media reacted positively to the public announcement of the Network. The action plan of the Network included various activities, such as seminars for professionals, further research, special publications, radio and TV spots. On 25 November , the Minister of Justice announced publicly the new Draft Law on Domestic Violence which was to be introduced for discussion in Parliament. Article 4 of the Draft Law was intended to prohibit corporal punishment, and stated: “Physical violence against children as a corrective measure in the context of their upbringing has the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code”. (Article 1532 punishes abuse of parental authority.) In presenting the new Draft Law, the Minister of Justice stated: “The new law introduces crucial reforms, which I would like to stress in particular:…. For the first time physical violence against children, as a corrective measure in the context of their upbringing, is explicitly prohibited. Our country thus follows the recommendations of the Council of Europe, the UN Committee for the Rights of the Child, as well as the Public Statement of the Greek Ombudsman.”

2006
October: the Greek Parliament passed Law 3500/2006 on the Combating of Intra-family Violence, under which corporal punishment of children within the family is prohibited. Article 4 of the new law states: “Physical violence against children as a disciplinary measure in the context of their upbringing brings the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code.”

November: The new law was announced in a press release issued by the Greek Ombudsman (Department of Children’s Rights) on 1 November:

NEW LAW ON THE PROHIBITION OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN GREECE
On October 10th 2006 Greece joined the countries, which have prohibited corporal / physical punishment of children within the family, by law. On that day, the Greek Parliament voted solidly for the abolition of all forms of physical violence, including physical punishment, against children in the context of their upbringing.

Article 4 of the Law 3500/2006 on the Combating of Intra-family violence states: “Physical violence against children as a disciplinary measure in the context of their upbringing brings the consequences of Article 1532 of the Civil Code”. It must be noted that article 1532 CC regulates the consequences of defective exercise of parental responsibility, which vary and can be as severe as the removal of parental responsibility, imposed by the competent court of law.

The wording of Article 4 of the new law has not been to the complete satisfaction of the Greek Network for the Prevention and Combating of Corporal Punishment of Children, which, having embraced the public statement made by the Ombudsman (Children’s Right Department) in February 2005, urged for the use of the term ‘corporal punishment’ instead of the more general “physical violence”.

However, it is important to stress that the Ministers responsible for the introduction of the bill (Minister of the Interior, Minister of the Exchequer, Minister of Education, Minister of Health, Minister of Justice and Minister of Public Order) in their explanatory report to the Parliament made an explicit reference to the term “corporal punishment”, by stating the following: “by the provision of article 4 (of the bill) it is made clear that the corporal punishment of children is not included in the permissible disciplinary measures of article 1518 of the Civil Code.”

Moreover, the definition of the term “physical violence” offered in the above report corresponds with the definition of corporal punishment, put forward by the Ombudsman in his public statement, thus leaving no doubt about the true content of the law.

Lastly, it is stated in the report that the recommendations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child as well as those of the Council of Europe and the Greek Ombudsman’s public statement on the abolition of corporal punishment have been taken into consideration during the drafting of the bill.

Therefore, article 4 of Law 3500/2006 will form the basis of the campaign, which will be launched by the Greek Network in order to sensitize citizens on the need to abolish the practice of using corporal punishment of children as a means of discipline.

2007
January: The new law came into force on 24 January 2007.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Greece.

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Hungary

Corporal punishment in the home was prohibited by an amendment to the Act on the Protection of Children and Guardianship Administration (1997), agreed by Parliament in December 2004, which came into force on January 1 2005.

Article 6, para. 5 of the Act now reads (unofficial translation): “The child has the right to be respected his/her human dignity, to be protected against abuse – physical, sexual and mental violence, failure to provide care and injury caused by any information. The child shall not be subjected to torture, corporal punishment and any cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment.”

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Hungary.

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Romania

A new Law on Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child prohibits corporal punishment. The law passed both Chambers of Romanian Parliament in June 2004 and came into force on January 1 2005.

In section 1, Civil Rights and Liberties, article 28 states:

  1. “The child has the right to be shown respect for his or her personality and individuality and may not be made subject to physical punishments or to other humiliating or degrading treatments.
  2. “Disciplinary measures concerning the child can only be taken in accordance with the child’s dignity, and, under no circumstances are physical punishments allowed, or punishments which relate to the child’s physical and mental development or which may affect the child’s emotional status.”

In section 3, Protection of the child against abuse and neglect, article 90 states: “It is forbidden to enforce physical punishments of any kind or to deprive the child of his or her rights, which may result in the endangerment of the life, the physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development, the bodily integrity, and the physical and mental health of the child, both within the family, as well as in any institution which ensures the protection, care and education of children.”

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Romania.

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Ukraine

In Ukraine, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (2001, in force 2002), made all intentional physical and psychological violence against any family member unlawful. Article 1 defines domestic violence as “any intentional action of one family member against another family member if such action infringes Constitutional and civil rights and freedoms of a family member and injures his physical, mental and moral health, and as well as child’s development”. It defines physical domestic violence as “an intentional beating, body injuring of one family member by another as well as intentional limitation of freedom, place of residence, food, clothing and other normal life conditions, which may result in victim’s death or may cause disturbance of his physical and mental health or may harm his honour and dignity”.

But it was not until the new Family Code (2003) came into force in January 2004 that all corporal punishment was explicitly prohibited. Article 150(7) states: “Physical punishment of the child by the parents, as well as other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited.”

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Ukraine.

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Iceland

In March 2003, the Icelandic government passed a new Children’s Act which completes the process of total abolition of corporal punishment of children by making it unlawful in the home. Article 28 of the new Act states: “It is the parents obligation to protect their child against any physical or mental violence and other degrading or humiliating behaviour”. This is interpreted by government and by the Ombudsman for Children as explicitly prohibiting corporal punishment by parents, and is supported by provisions in the 2002 Child Protection Act which had already placed an obligation on parents “to treat their children with care and consideration”, and “to safeguard their welfare at all times”. The new law will enter into effect on November 1 2003.

There is no legal defense available to parents who use corporal punishment, although there is a right to use physical restraint as an emergency measure when an individual is in danger of injuring himself or others. Cases of corporal punishment may come within the scope of the Child Protection Act (2002), which orders imprisonment “if those who have a child in their care mistreat the child mentally or physically, abuse him/her sexually or otherwise, or neglect the child mentally or physically, so that the child’s life or health is at risk” (Article 98) and for “any person who inflicts punishments, threats or menaces upon a child, that may be expected to harm the child physically or mentally” (Article 99), and imprisonment or fines for “any person who subjects a child to aggressive, abusive or indecent behaviour or hurts or insults him/her” (Article 99).

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Iceland.

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Germany

In July 2000 the Bundestag added a new provision to the German Civil Code which states: “Children have the right to a non-violent upbringing. Corporal punishment, psychological injuries and other humiliating measures are prohibited”.

Another Civil Code amendment encourages authorities to provide advice to families on resolving conflicts without violence. In 1997 German law was amended to prohibit “degrading methods of discipline including physical and psychological abuse”, but this did not explicitly ban all physical punishment. In October 1998 the Families Minister in the new Government announced that it was committed to prohibiting all corporal punishment: in 2000 it fulfilled its commitment.

The Federal Government and NGOs have collaborated to launch a public campaign to accompany the law reform and encourage parents to raise their children by non-violent means.

The objective of the campaign is not to pillory parents – rather to sensitise them in measured ways as to how they can raise their children with due respect and care. The campaign is two-tiered. One part consists of posters, advertisements and television spots. The other consists of individual projects and community initiatives all around Germany, geared towards supporting parents in the raising of their children. To raise the public profile of the campaign, prominent personalities, including the Federal Minister for Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth have been appointed as ambassadors to promote childrearing by non-violent means.

The campaign website is at: www.mehr-respekt-vor-kindern.de

How Germany banned smacking – a brief summary

This briefing provides a few headlines on what the law reform actually means for children and families and on how and why the ban was introduced. Prepared by Phil Taverner, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Area Children’s Services Manager (UK), who visited Germany to investigate the background to its smacking ban.

What the new law says
The law consists of two key sentences added to the Burgerliches Gesetzbuch, the German Civil Law.

“Children have a right to be brought up without the use of force. Physical punishment, the causing of psychological harm and other degrading measures are forbidden”.

Three interesting things to note about the wording of the law are:

  1. It is constructed primarily as a positive declaration affirming children’s rights, with the prohibition of smacking following as a natural consequence of this opening statement.
  2. The word “Gewalt”, which has been translated above as the English “force”, covers more than the act of hitting. It also takes in, for example,
    “a heavy push, a hard pull, twisting an ear, pulling hair and tying (a child) up”.
  3. It does not stop at a ban on physical punishment, but also makes the causing of psychological or emotional harm and other degrading measures illegal..

At the same time the Socialgesetzbuch, the German childcare law, was amended to impose an active duty on local authorities to “promote ways in which families can resolve conflict without resort to force”.

How the law was introduced
Childcare professionals, children’s rights workers and others had been campaigning for some time for a ban on smacking. The breakthrough came shortly after the general election of 1998 when the coalition of the Social Democratic Party and the Greens that formed the new Government included a commitment to ban corporal punishment in their coalition agreement. There was little opposition in either half of the German Parliament or in public, despite the fact that public opinion polls at the time were showing a majority of people opposed to a ban. The only concern expressed was the worry that parents would be criminalised, but this was overcome by writing the ban into the Civil Law. In the event the change was passed in the National Parliament on the 6th July 2000, ratified by the Federal Assembly on 29th September and came into force on the 2nd November.

The Government’s aims in taking this step closely matched those of the Swedish Government more than twenty years earlier. By banning all forms of corporal punishment they hoped to:

  • Give children the same legal protection from being hit as adults.
  • Change public attitudes to make all forms of violence against children unacceptable in the population as a whole, leading eventually to a break in the “cycle of violence”.
  • Reduce child abuse by allowing professionals to identify with more confidence families whose children may be at risk and to provide help before more serious abuse takes place.

The factors that persuaded the Government that this change was necessary
The paper that laid out the Government’s thinking to Parliament explains in detail the reasons behind the decision that a legal ban was needed. In summary these are:

  • The Children’s Commission (an all-party group of MPs) had concluded that legal change was needed.
  • An impressive body of research in Germany had established a clear link between childhood experiences of physical punishment and the likelihood that those young people would turn to violence and other forms of anti-social behaviour in their turn. Concern about growing youth crime was high in Germany, and a ban on smacking was clearly seen as an important element of the attempt to turn the tide in the long term.
  • Many other countries had already banned smacking, indicating a growing consensus among European countries that use of any force against children is unacceptable. Germany was keen to learn from these others’ experiences and Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Austria were picked out in particular as examples of good practice. It was noted that only a small minority of European countries still hold onto the concept of “reasonable chastisement”.
  • Germany is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 19 of this convention affirms a child’s right to be protected from all forms of physical or psychological violence.
  • The German constitution applies equally to children and adults. Different articles of this Constitution provide for the protection of each person’s value as a human being and for the right to be free from all physical harm from others. To allow a situation to continue in which children can be subjected to physical punishments while adults are legally protected was untenable.

How the change in law was communicated to the public
One of the slogans that accompanied the legal change from the beginning was “Help instead of punishment”, stressing the fact that the intention was to change public opinion and provide families with the means to move away from reliance on use of force as a way of resolving conflict.

To this end the introduction of the law was accompanied by a public education campaign entitled “More Respect for Children”. This was funded by Central Government but implemented by a combination of federal and local authorities and non-governmental organizations. The precise nature of the campaign varied from place to place due to Germany’s federal structure, but employed a wide range of methods to get the message across. These included such things as slots on national TV, the production of leaflets and educational materials for parents, public events and workshops, the introduction of structured “courses” as part of adult education programs and more.

The main criticism from childcare professionals and rights campaigners was that this campaign was not extensive enough. It is being evaluated at the moment. Preliminary results do show a shift in public opinion already, but the actual results of the evaluation will not be known until the autumn of 2002.

The continuing responsibility for the long-term implementation of the law has been passed to the federal and local authorities by the amendment to the childcare legislation mentioned above.

Although it is early days, there has not been a single prosecution of parents that refers to this new law so far, indicating that the “help instead of punishment” perspective is working.

Children’s participation
Although the question of children’s participation in decision-making is not strictly speaking directly connected with the ban on smacking, it is a crucial part of the wider scene. In Germany professionals draw a very firm connection between the extent to which children are able to participate in matters of interest to them and their physical safety. This is partly why the campaign referred to more respect for children; if you respect someone enough to give them a say, it becomes much more difficult to justify hitting them in situations of conflict. As long ago as 1980 the Civil Law was amended to give parents a duty to “discuss with the child questions relating to their care and upbringing and strive for a consensus”. That this is completely unenforceable is not the point, since it creates an expectation that children have a legal right to be heard. It is possible that the attitudes brought about by the existence of this right for more than 20 years helped pave the way for the eventual ban on smacking.

The final word here should go to the children of Germany. An exercise was held in 2000, culminating in a two day summit meeting involving children elected from all parts of the country and Chancellor Schroeder. The workshop drew up a Charter of children’s rights and responsibilities. Three of the children’s seven demands were for action to protect children from all forms of physical harm or punishment. Freedom from being hit is clearly a priority for children.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Germany.

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Israel

In January 2000 the Israel Supreme Court effectively banned all parental corporal punishment, however light. One of the three judges wrote: “In the judicial, social and educational circumstances in which we live, we must not make compromises that can endanger the welfare and physical well-being of minors… If we allow ‘light’ violence, it might deteriorate into very serious violence. We must not endanger the physical and mental well-being of a minor with any type of corporal punishment. A truth which is worthy must be clear and unequivocal and the message is that corporal punishment is not allowed”.

Israel’s National Council for the Child declared that the ruling “finally recognized the right of children not to be exposed to violence of any kind, even when those who use violence make excuses for it, saying it is ‘educational’ or ‘punitive'”.

In the same year, the Knesset approved legislation to remove the common law “reasonable chastisement” defence. Click here for summary.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Israel.

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Bulgaria

Corporal punishment is unlawful according to the Child Protection Act (2000). Article 11.2 states: “Every child has a right to protection against all methods of upbringing, that undermine his or her dignity, against physical, psychological or other types of violence and against all forms of influence which go against his or her interests.” This is interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment of children, including by parents.

According to the Family Code (1985, amended 1992), the basic functions of the family include “establishing within the family relations based on respect, attachment, friendship, common efforts and reciprocal responsibility for its development” (article 4).

The Penal Code prohibits violence which leads to “severe”, “medium” and “trivial” bodily injury (articles 128-130), particularly if the victim is a minor (article 131). However, the complexities of the procedure for prosecution in cases of “trivial” bodily injury under the Penal Procedures Code (articles 46 and 57) limit the legal protection afforded children, and there is as yet no associated case-law concerning corporal punishment.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Bulgaria.

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Croatia

When Croatia’s Initial Report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child was examined by the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 1996, Government representatives assured the Committee that they would explicitly ban corporal punishment. A new family law received its third reading in the Croatian Parliament in June 1998. It includes a provision, like the Swedish law, prohibiting corporal punishment and humiliation. It came into effect from January 1 1999.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Croatia.

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Latvia

On June 19 1998 the Latvian Parliament adopted a new law on protection of children’s rights. The Law on Protection of the Rights of the Child prohibits cruel treatment, torture and corporal punishment of children, including within the family. It states in article 9.2: “A child cannot be treated cruelly, cannot be tormented and physically punished, and his/her dignity and honour cannot be offended.” The Law makes “failure to discharge parental obligations … the malicious usage of parental authority, the physical punishing of a child, as well as cruel behaviour against him/her” offenses under the law (article 24.4), and states that “expression of parental will regarding a child can be limited, regardless of their opinions and religious convictions, if it is discovered that they can physically or morally harm the further development of a child” (article 24.5).

As at 2005, proposals by the Ministry for Children and Family Affairs were under discussion for possible amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Violations with a view to further protecting children from physical and emotional violence in the family.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Latvia.

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Denmark

In May 1997 the Danish Parliament agreed an amendment to the Parental Custody and Care Act which reads: “A child has the right to care and security. He or she shall be treated with respect as an individual and may not be subjected to corporal punishment or other degrading treatment”.

A previous, less explicit reform came into effect in 1986: a private Bill passed by the Danish Parliament on 30 May 1985 came into force on January 1 1986. It amended the Majority Act to state: “Parental custody implies the obligation to protect the child against physical and psychological violence and against other harmful treatment”. (A 1984 opinion poll had found only 25 per cent in favor of formal abolition of parents’ right to hit children, and 68 per cent against abolition). Commentators indicated at the time that the law reform was an indication to parents that violence should never be used in child rearing, but that its legal effects were uncertain. Subsequently other legal commentators suggested that parents’ traditional “right to punish” still existed, and allowed at least minor forms of physical punishment.

As the proposer of the 1997 Bill to amend the law told Parliament, “Danes are increasingly turning away from corporal punishment… A fresh opinion poll in January 1997 showed a clear majority – 57 per cent of the population – were against physical punishment. This shows an unmistakable shift against such punishment”.

The proposer emphasized the educational purpose of the change: “In the opinion of the advocates of the change in the law, it is important for those groups who work with families to have firm, clear and unequivocal legal grounds for being able to say that under no circumstances may one use violence in the upbringing of a child… Doctors, the police and social workers come into contact with families where children are regularly beaten. These groups will – if the law is changed – be able to point out that it is wrong to hit a child and instead give advice on other ways to resolve conflicts”. The purpose of the change was not to penalize more parents – on the contrary. But “clear legislation and a plainly worded explanation of the reasons for it are vital if we are to change public opinion on the issue of the corporal punishment of children”.

The reform followed a series of hearings and consultations and a campaign led by the National Council for Children and Danish Save the Children. The National Council for Children, set up in 1994 for a three-year trial period to fulfill the function of children’s ombudsman in Denmark, has now been given permanent status.

Professor Per Schultz Jorgensen, Chair of the Danish National Council for Children 1997 – 2000, comments:

“Explicit legal reform against all corporal punishment of children in Denmark was put into action in June 1997. Previous reforms in the 1980s required parents to protect their children from physical and psychological violence; uncertainties remained about whether it was still permissible to smack children. So the 1997 law makes it absolutely clear that no corporal punishment is permitted. The National Council for Children played an active role in campaigning for the new law, so we decided to be active as well in an information campaign about it. During the autumn of 1998 the National Council has invested resources in reaching every family with minor children in Denmark. The materials include folders, leaflets, pamphlets, films and videos. And so far we feel we have succeeded: many schools and children’s institutions ask for more materials. There has also been discussion in newspapers and on national TV channels.

“It is too early to measure any kind of outcome from the legal reform and the information campaign. But nobody doubts that the reform is influencing attitudes towards a more open, accepting and humane practice in the upbringing of children”.

The National Council for Children (Borneradet) was established as a permanent, inter-disciplinary and independent body in 1997 to ensure children’s rights and to highlight and provide information on the conditions of children’s lives.

Holmens Kanal 22, 1060 Copenhagen, Denmark; 00 45 33 92 4500; fax 00 45 33 92 4699; www.boerneraadet.dk

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Denmark.

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Cyprus

In June 1994, the Cyprus House of Representatives unanimously adopted a new law on prevention of family violence and protection of victims which criminalizes “the exercise of violence on behalf of any member of the family against another member of the family” (Law 147(1) June 1994). It states that, for the purposes of this law, violence means any unlawful act or controlling behavior which results in direct actual physical, sexual or psychological injury to any member of the family. If any act takes place in the presence of children the act shall be considered as violence exercised against the children likely to cause them psychological injury and such acts or behavior constitute a punishable offense.

The prohibition was reiterated in a new Act on Violence in the Family adopted in 2000.

In August 2005, the government’s response to the questionnaire in the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children stated that the Children Law provided for a “right to administer punishment”, but this provision was expected to be removed following review.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Cyprus.

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Austria

On March 15 1989 the Austrian Parliament voted to amend its family law and the Youth Welfare Act to state explicitly that in bringing up children “using violence and inflicting physical or mental suffering is unlawful”. The new law was passed unanimously and without controversy. The Austrian Minister for Environment, Youth and the Family stated: “The motive for this reform is our knowledge of the immeasurable harm children suffer when parents are not willing or able to avoid physical punishment as a way of bringing up their children. I hope other countries will follow us in ruling out physical punishment”.

Statement from Paul Arzt, Children’s Ombudsperson for Salzburg and a spokesperson for the Austrian Conference of Ombudspersons for Children and Youth:

“The Austrian Ombudspersons for Children and Youth take it for granted that the national legislation concerning physical punishment in the family, in schools and generally is a very important tool to secure the healthy and respectful upbringing of all children in our country.

“We feel that – although there are still cases of physical punishment – the legal structure is a very important measure in awareness raising and has influenced the public debate on physical punishment and the “culture of education” to a very high degree.

“According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child it is important that all States Parties take their responsibility to change or adopt their national laws with the aim of making physical punishment illegal. Additionally all relevant measures outside the legal framework (e.g. counseling services, media campaigns etc.) to promote the issue of non-violent education should be supported to the highest possible extent.

“The aim of the law is to change attitudes and reduce physical punishment and it certainly has not resulted in any increase in prosecution of parents for hitting their children, or increase in children being taken into state care”.

Paul Arzt, Kinder und Jugendanwaltschaft Salzburg, Strubergasse 4, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria 00 43 662 430 550; fax 00 43 662 430590, www.salzburg.com/kija

Each of the nine “lander” (regions) of Austria has an Ombudsperson for Children and Youth. Collectively they form the Conference of Ombudspeople for Children and Youth, in order to comment on federal matters.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Austria.

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Norway

In January 1987 an amendment to the Parent and Child Act took effect. It states: “The child shall not be exposed to physical violence or to treatment which can threaten his physical or mental health”. This followed a recommendation from an official committee looking at child abuse and neglect, which was taken up by the Ministry of Justice. As was the case prior to legal reform in Denmark, a1983 opinion poll in Norway found that 68 per cent were still against prohibiting all physical punishment.

Up to 1972 the Norwegian Criminal Code on assault, dating from 1891, stated that parents and others in loco parentis had the right to use moderate corporal punishment as part of the upbringing of children. In 1972 that provision was removed, amid a lot of controversy. This caused more rather than less confusion about parents’ rights to punish.

When the amendment to the Parent and Child Act was being debated in the Norwegian Parliament, the Minister of Justice suggested that even though parental physical violence was already prohibited in the Criminal Code, the new reform was not superfluous. For many people did not understand or know about the law, and making corporal punishment clearly illegal in the Parent and Child Act would inform the general public. There was considerable lack of clarity about parents’ rights and the legal change in 1972 had been just as confusing as clarifying. Now there would be no doubt: in applying the criminal law, the child would have the same protection as everyone else from the use of violence. It was not sufficient to protect children from “real” pain and “unnecessary” humiliation. Corporal punishment as a way of bringing up children was no longer acceptable.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Norway.

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Finland

In Finland, the ban on physical punishment formed part of a comprehensive reform of children’s law. The Child Custody and Right of Access Act 1983 begins with a statement of positive principles of care for children, and continues: “A child shall be brought up in the spirit of understanding, security and love. He shall not be subdued, corporally punished or otherwise humiliated. His growth towards independence, responsibility and adulthood shall be encouraged, supported and assisted.” This reform in family law puts beyond doubt that the criminal law applies equally to assaults committed against children by parents and other carers.

Matti Savolainen of the Ministry of Justice in Helsinki, who was responsible for drafting the 1983 Act, describes section 1 of the Act as incorporating three strategies: “Firstly the Act attempts to establish certain ‘positive’ guidelines for the upbringing of the child. Secondly the Act makes it absolutely clear that all violations against the child’s integrity (whether ‘physical’ or ‘spiritual’) which would constitute a criminal offence if committed by a third person (e.g. assault, unlawful imprisonment, libel, slander, etc.) are equally punishable even when committed by a parent with the intent to discipline the child. And under the Criminal Code even a petty assault committed against a child under 15 is subject to public prosecution when committed by a parent at home. Thirdly the Act explicitly forbids also any degrading treatment (‘the child shall not be humiliated’) even where such an act would not constitute a criminal offence and even if there are no other direct legal remedies available.”

A public information campaign was launched by the Ministry of Justice and National Board of Social Affairs, including a leaflet entitled What is a good upbringing?, made available through health clinics, social welfare offices and so on. A large-scale campaign was also launched by the Central Union for Child Welfare, an NGO, together with the National Boards of Health and Social Affairs, including a leaflet When you can’t cope, find help: don’t hit the child.

There were also brief spots on national television at peak viewing time before the main evening news program as the law came into effect. This is a translation of the commentary on one of them:

Do you hit your child?

Is that how you bring him up?

All physical punishment deflates a child’s ego. Even a slap makes him or her feel worthless.

A worthless person becomes indifferent.

Through slapping you are raising a bully.

Talk to the child. Settle your differences through discussion.

Make the child party to an agreement. That way you both win.

Decide to deserve your child’s respect. As a person.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Finland.

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Sweden

Sweden was the first country in the world to prohibit all corporal punishment of children. In 1979 a provision was added to the Parenthood and Guardianship Code which now reads: “Children are entitled to care, security and a good upbringing. Children are to be treated with respect for their person and individuality and may not be subjected to corporal punishment or any other humiliating treatment.”

The proposal, together with a draft Bill, came from a multi-disciplinary Children’s Rights Commission, chaired by an eminent judge, which emphasised: “The primary purpose of the provision is to make it clear that beating children is not permitted. Secondly, the Commission wishes to create a basis for general information and education for parents as to the importance of giving children good care and as to one of the prime requirements of their care. The proposed provision should, in the long term, contribute towards reducing the number of cases of acts of physical violence on children”. It proposed a “recurrent general parent education programme”. When the Bill went before Parliament it was passed by 259 votes to 6.

The Ministry of Justice led a very large-scale education campaign. A pamphlet distributed to every household with children emphasised that “the law now forbids all forms of physical punishment of children, including smacking etc, although it goes without saying that you can still snatch a child away from a hot stove or open window if there is a risk of its injuring itself”.

The legal provision forms part of Sweden’s family (civil) law. But its purpose is to emphasize beyond doubt that the criminal code on assault covers physical punishment, although trivial offenses remain unpunished just as trivial assaults between adults are not prosecutable.

A detailed research review of the effects of Sweden’s ban has been carried out by Professor Joan E Durrant, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Family Studies at the University of Manitoba. See A Generation Without Smacking – The impact of Sweden’s ban on physical punishment (1.9 MB PDF).

Statement from Sweden’s first Children’s Ombudsman, Louise Sylwander:

The anti-spanking law has influenced Swedish Society

“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which every European country has accepted, strengthens the position of children within the family and in society as a whole. Everyone who meets a child has the responsibility to treat the child with respect. Children are in a vulnerable situation in relation to adults, and therefore they must be guaranteed a safe childhood: a childhood without violence including physical chastisement.

“Physical punishment is not in accordance with the UN Child Convention. And the European Court of Human Rights recently unanimously found the physical punishment of a young English boy by his stepfather breached article 3 of the European Convention. It is very important, therefore, that society clearly underlines that children and young people have a right to an upbringing based on parental support and encouragement rather than chastisement.

“In Sweden, there has been a ban on subjecting children to spanking since 1979. It goes without saying that this ban has not ended all forms of violence to children in our country. But it is obvious that attitudes towards violence and the use of physical punishment have changed for the better and today there is strong public opinion in favor of the Swedish anti-spanking law.

“No more than 11 per cent of the adult population in Sweden are positively inclined to even minor forms of physical punishment. Recent studies by Statistics Sweden show that spanking has become less common in our society. Attitudes have changed substantially since 1965 when a similar study was done. Only two per cent of today’s middle school pupils report being spanked every other week, and 78 per cent report that they have never been spanked. The change in the Swedish Parental Code prohibiting spanking of children has played an important role in this positive development.

“During the last two decades, reporting of child abuse and neglect has increased. There is no clear evidence which indicates a corresponding increase in actual cases of child abuse in Sweden. Everything points to other explanations such as better awareness and knowledge of children in vulnerable situations. As mentioned above, attitudes in society have also changed: people today are less willing to accept violence against children. Another reason is that the reporting obligations under the Social Welfare Act have been strengthened and many more groups of professionals are now obliged to report children at risk – so less cases of child abuse and neglect fail to come to the attention of the social welfare authorities.

“In other countries, for example the USA and Canada, the number of reports of child abuse and neglect have also increased. In Belgium, the numbers have increased by almost 70 per cent between 1986 and 1992.

“The State’s obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child demands that all measures must be undertaken for the implementation of the rights recognised in the Convention. Legislation is only one of the measures, but it is an important statement from society that we are no longer accepting physical chastisement of children.

“When the Bill on the anti-spanking law was put forward a member of the Swedish Parliament said: “If we as parents cannot convince our children with words, then we shall never convince them with violence.”

Louise Sylwander, Sweden’s Children’s Ombudsman, December 1993 – 2000

Norr Malarstrand 6, Box 22106, 10422 Stockholm, Sweden www.bo.se

Additional Resources available to download:

Ending corporal punishment – Swedish Government booklet

A Generation Without Smacking – The impact of Sweden’s ban on physical punishment (1.9 MB PDF).

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Sweden.

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Italy

In May 1996 the Supreme Court in Rome in a landmark judgement stated that “the use of violence for educational purposes can no longer be considered lawful”. It stated that “the very expression ‘correction of children’, which expresses a view of child-rearing that is both culturally anachronistic and historically outdated, should in fact be re-defined, abolishing any connotation of hierarchy or authoritarianism and introducing the ideas of social and responsible commitment which should characterise the position of the educator vis a vis the learner”.

Click here for summary of judgment.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Italy.

Nepal

Section 7 of the Child Act (1992, in force 1993) states: “No child shall be subjected to torture or cruel treatment. Provided that, the act of scolding and minor beating to the child by his father, mother, member of the family, guardian or teacher for the interests of the child shall himself not be deemed to violate the provision of this section.” Following a writ petition filed by the Centre for Victims of Torture in Nepal on 16 June 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that the restrictive clause in section 7 was unconstitutional and, in accordance with article 88 of the Constitution (1990), declared the portion “or give him/her minor beating” null and void with immediate effect (Mr Devendra Ale et al v Office of the Prime Minister & Cabinet et al, Supreme Court decision 6 January 2005). The judgment also issued a directive to the government “to pursue appropriate and effective measures to prevent physical punishment as well as other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or abuse being imposed or inflicted on and likely to be imposed or inflicted on children”.

Click here for summary of judgment.

See the country report on laws and research relating to corporal punishment in Nepal.

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United States statutes pertaining to spanking*
[Cr.]= Criminal Code, [Ci.]=Civil Code
*As of November 20, 2007

PENNSYLVANIA: Parents can use reasonable supervision and control when raising their children.23 Sec. 6302.[Ci.] Parent/guardian/person responsible for general care and supervision/ person acting at request of the above may use force for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting welfare of minor including the prevention or punishment of his misconduct, if the force is not designed to cause or known to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious bodily injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, mental distress, or gross degradation. 18 Sec. 509.[Cr.]

ALABAMA

Parent/guardian/person responsible for care and supervision of a minor/teacher or other person responsible for care and supervision of a minor for a special purpose may use reasonable and appropriate physical force when and to the extent he reasonably believes it necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline or promote welfare of the child. Sec. 13A-3-24. [Cr.]

ALASKA

Force is justified when and to the extent reasonably necessary and appropriate to promote a child’s welfare. Parent/guardian/other person with care and supervision of child under 18 may use reasonable and appropriate non-deadly force upon the child. Sec. 11.81.430.[Cr.]

ARIZONA

Parent/guardian may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor when and to the extent reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline. Sec. 13-403.[Cr.]

ARKANSAS

Abuse does not include physical discipline of a child if reasonable and moderate and inflicted by a parent or guardian for restraining or correcting a child. Listed as not reasonable or moderate for correcting or restraining: — Throwing, kicking, burning, biting, cutting, striking with a closed fist, shaking a child under 3, striking or other actions which result in any non-accidental injury to a child less than 18 months, interfering with a child’s breathing, threatening a child with a deadly weapon, striking a child on the face, or any other act that is likely to cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks. [Statute says this is an illustrative and not exclusive list]. Age, size, condition of the child, and the location of the injury and frequency or recurrence of injuries shall be considered in determining “reasonable” or “moderate.” Sec. 9-27-303(B).[Ci.] Parent/teacher/guardian/other with care and supervision of a minor may use reasonable and appropriate physical force when and to the extent reasonably necessary to maintain discipline or promote the welfare of the child. Sec. 5-2-605(l).[Cr.] If the belief that the force is necessary is a reckless or negligent belief, than the above offers no defense to a crime if the culpability of that crime is proven by showing recklessness or negligence.
Justification is not available if person recklessly or negligently injured or created a substantial risk of injury to a person. Sec. 5-2-614.[Cr.]

CALIFORNIA

Law not intended to prohibit the use of reasonable methods of parental discipline, or to prescribe a particular method of parenting. Serious physical harm does not include reasonable and age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks where there is no evidence of serious physical injury. Welf. and Inst. Code  Sec. 300. [Ci.] Abuse includes unlawful corporal punishment or injury. Penal  Code Sec. 11165.6.[Cr.] “Unlawful corporal punishment or injury” is any person  willfully inflicting upon a child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition. Penal Code Sec. 11165.4.[Cr.]

COLORADO

Any investigation of child abuse shall take into account the child-rearing practices of the child’s culture. Child abuse and neglect does not include acts which can be reasonably construed to be a reasonable exercise of parental discipline. Sec. 19-3-303(l).[Ci.] A continued pattern of conduct which results in cruel punishment or accumulation of injury which results in death or serious bodily injury is child abuse. Sec. 18-6-401.[Cr.] Parent/guardian/ person with care and supervision of minor can use reasonable and appropriate physical force, if it is reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain or promote welfare of child. Sec. 18-1-703.[Cr.]

CONNECTICUT

It is abuse if having control and custody of a child under sixteen (16) one cruelly or unlawfully punishes. Sec. 53-20.[Cr.] Parent/guardian/person with care and supervision of a minor (other than a teacher) may use reasonable physical force, when and to the extent that he reasonably believes necessary to maintain discipline or promote welfare of minor. Sec. 53a-18.[Cr.]

DELAWARE

Force is justifiable if reasonable and moderate and by parent/guardian/foster parent/legal custodian/other similar person responsible for care and supervision. Force must be: — For purpose of safeguarding or promoting welfare of child, including prevention or punishment of misconduct, and — Intended to benefit child. Reasonable and moderate is determined in light of: size, age, and condition of child, location, strength, and duration of force. Force is not justified if it consists of: — Throwing child, kicking, burning, cutting, striking with a closed fist, interfering with breathing, use of or threatened use of deadly weapon, prolonged deprivation of sustenance or medication, any act likely to cause or causing physical injury, disfigurement, mental distress, unnecessary degradation or substantial risk of serious physical injury or
death. Criminal Sec. 468.[Cr.]

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Abuse includes excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 6-2101.[Ci.] Abuse includes when a parent/guardian/custodian inflicts or fails to make reasonable efforts to prevent the infliction of physical or mental injury, including excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 16-2301.[Ci.]

FLORIDA

“Harm” to a child occurs when the parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon the child physical, mental, or emotional injury. The following factors must be considered in evaluating any injury: prior injuries; location; multiplicity; and type of trauma. Such injury include, but are not limited to willful acts that produce the following specific injuries: sprains, dislocations, or cartilage damage; bone or skull fractures; brain or spinal cord damage; intracranial hemorrhage or injury to other internal organs; asphyxiation, suffocation, or drowning; injury resulting from the use of a deadly weapon; burns or scalding; cuts, lacerations, punctures, or bites; permanent or temporary disfigurement; or permanent or temporary loss or impairment of a body part or function. “Willful” refers to the intent to perform an action, not to achieve a particular result or an intent to cause an injury. Sec. 415.503.[Ci.]

GEORGIA

Physical forms of discipline may be used as long as there is no physical injury to the child. Secs. 19-7-5/ 19-15- 1/49-5-180.[Ci.] Parent or person in loco parentis reasonably disciplining of a minor has a justification for a criminal prosecution based on that conduct. Sec. 16-3-20.[Cr.]

HAWAII

Parent/guardian/person responsible for general care and supervision of minor/person acting at request of above may use force if. — employed with due regard for age and size of minor and reasonably related to purpose of safeguarding or promoting welfare of minor, including prevention or punishment of minor’s conduct, and — not designed to cause or known to create a risk of causing substantial bodily injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, mental
distress, or neurological damage. Sec. 703-309.[Cr.]

IDAHO

Abuse includes physical cruelty in excess of that required for reasonable disciplinary purposes, inflicted by a parent or other person in whom legal custody is vested. Sec. 16-2002.[Ci.]

ILLINOIS

An “abused child” includes any child whose parent/immediate family member/person responsible for the child’s welfare/individual residing in the same house/paramour of child’s parent inflicts excessive corporal punishment.
Secs. 325 5/3/ [Ci.]

INDIANA

Law does not limit right of parent/guardian/custodian to use reasonable corporal punishment when disciplining a child. Sec. 31-34-1-15.[Ci.]

IOWA

Child endangerment includes using unreasonable force, torture, or cruelty which results in physical injury, is intended to cause serious injury, or causes substantial mental or emotional harm. Sec. 726.6.[Cr.]

KANSAS

Abuse includes cruel and inhuman corporal punishment. Sec. 21-3609.[Cr.]

KENTUCKY

Parent/guardian/person/teacher with care and supervision of minor can use force if person believes force necessary for welfare of child and force is not designed to cause or known to cause a substantial risk of causing death, serious physical injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, or extreme mental distress. Sec. 503.110.[Cr.]

LOUISIANA

In determining abuse the agency should take into account that an injury may have resulted from what might be considered reasonable discipline for a child’s misbehavior. Children’s Code Art. 615(A).[Ci.] Parent/tutor/teacher reasonably disciplining a minor has a defense to a criminal prosecution based on that conduct. Sec. 14:18. [Cr.]

MAINE

It is a crime for parent/guardian/other with care and custody of child to cruelly treat a child by extreme punishment. 17A Sec. 554(1)(B-1). [Cr.]

MARYLAND

Law does not prohibit reasonable punishment by parent or stepparent, including reasonable corporal punishment, evaluated in light of the age and condition of child. Sec. 4-501.[Ci.]

MICHIGAN

Parent/guardian/other person permitted by law, parent, or guardian can reasonably discipline a child, including the use of reasonable force. Sec. 750.136b.[Cr.]

MINNESOTA

Parent/legal guardian/caretaker who intentionally uses unreasonable force or cruel discipline that is excessive under the circumstances is guilty of malicious punishment. Sec. 609.377.[Cr.] Parent/legal guardian/teacher/caretaker of child or pupil can use reasonable force to restrain or correct a child or pupil. Sec. 609.379.[Cr.]

MISSISSIPPI

Physical discipline (not to include any form of sexual abuse) performed on a child by a parent, guardian or custodian shall only be deemed to be abuse under this paragraph when a licensed physician has determined that physical injury has occurred. Sec. 97-5-39(2(m)). [Cr.]

MISSOURI

Discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, is not abuse. Sec. 210.110. [Ci.] Force justified if by parent/guardian/other person with care and supervision of minor if- — Person believes force necessary to promote welfare of minor, and — Force used is not designed to cause or believed to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious physical injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, or extreme emotional distress. Sec. 563.061.[Cr.]

MONTANA

“Physical abuse” is defined as “substantial skin bruising, internal bleeding, substantial injury to skin, subdural hematoma, intentional burns, bone fractures, extreme pain, permanent or temporary disfigurement, impairment of
any bodily organ or function, or death if the injury or death is not accidental.” Sec. 41-3-102.[Ci.] Parent or authorized agent of parent/guardian/master/teacher is justified to use force if reasonable and necessary to restrain or correct child. Sec. 45-3-107.[Cr.]

NEBRASKA

It is abuse to knowingly, intentionally, or negligently cause or permit a child to be cruelly punished. Sec. 28-710.[Cr.] Parent/guardian/person responsible for care and supervision/person acting at one of the above’s request is justified to use force on a minor if for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting the welfare of minor, including prevention or punishment of misconduct, but not designed to cause or known to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious bodily harm, disfigurement, extreme pain, mental distress, or gross degradation. Sec. 28-1413.[Cr.] If the belief that the force is necessary is a reckless or negligent belief, than the above offers no defense to a crime, if the culpability of that crime is proven by showing recklessness or negligence. Justification is not available if person recklessly or negligently injured or created a substantial risk of injury to a person. Sec. 28-1414.[Cr.]

NEVADA

Excessive corporal punishment may cause physical or mental injuries which constitute abuse. Sec. 432B.150.[Ci.] “Injury” to a child occurs when a parent/guardian/custodian inflicts or allows to be inflicted upon a child physical, mental, or emotional injuries sustained as a result of excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 128.013.[Ci.]

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Parent/guardian/person/teacher responsible for general care and welfare of minor may use force against minor when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent or punish minor’s misconduct. No defense available for malicious or reckless use of force that creates risk of death, serious bodily injury, or substantial pain. Sec. 627:6.[Cr.]

NEW JERSEY

Cruelty to a child includes inflicting unnecessarily severe corporal punishment upon a child. Sec. 9:6-1.[Ci.] “Abuse” includes a parent, guardian, or other person with control or custody inflicting excessive corporal punishment (which must be excessive to the point that the child’s physical, mental, or emotional condition has been impaired or is in imminent danger of becoming impaired as a result). Sec. 9:6-8.9.[Ci.] Person with responsibility for care, supervision, discipline, or safety of another may use force against them if for the purpose of and to the extent necessary to further the responsibility. Sec. 2C:3-8.[Cr.] Justification is not available if the person recklessly or negligently injures or creates a risk of injury. Sec. 2C: 3-9.[Cr.]

NEW MEXICO

An abused child includes one who has been cruelly punished by a parent/ guardian/ custodian. Sec.32A-1-4(B).[Ci.] Abuse includes knowingly, intentionally, or negligently permitting or causing a child to be cruelly punished. Sec. 30-6-1.[Cr.]

NEW YORK

Neglecting a child includes unreasonably inflicting or allowing the infliction of harm or substantial risk thereof, including excessive corporal punishment. Fam. Ct. Sec. 1012.[Ci.] Parent/guardian/other person with care and supervision of person under 21, can use non-deadly physical force when and to the extent he reasonably believes necessary to maintain discipline or promote welfare of person force performed upon. Penal Sec. 35:10.[Cr.]

NORTH CAROLINA

Abuse includes infliction of a serious physical injury by other than accidental means; creating a substantial risk of such injury by other than accidental means; and using cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or devices to modify behavior. Juvenile Sec. 7B-101(1). [Ci.]

NORTH DAKOTA

“Harm” includes injuries sustained from excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 50-25.1-02.[Ci.] Parent/guardian/other person responsible for care and supervision of minor/person acting at direction of the above can use reasonable force on a minor for safeguarding or promoting his welfare, including prevention or punishment of his misconduct and maintenance of proper discipline. Force does not have to be “necessary,” but cannot create substantial risk of death,
serious bodily injury or disfigurement, or gross degradation. Sec. 12.1-05-05.[Cr.]

OHIO

Not abuse if not prohibited under law prohibiting endangering children. “Endangering children” is administering corporal punishment or other physical discipline, or physically restraining the child in a cruel manner or for a prolonged period if the punishment or discipline is excessive under the circumstances and creates a substantial risk of serious physical harm to the child. Sec. 2151.031.[Ci.] It is a criminal act to administer corporal punishment or other physical discipline, or to physically restrain the child in a cruel manner or for a prolonged period if it is excessive under the circumstances and creates a substantial risk of serious physical harm to the child. It is a criminal act to administer unwarranted disciplinary measures to child if there is a substantial risk that if conduct is continued it will seriously impair the child’s health or development. Sec. 2919.22.[Cr.]

OKLAHOMA

Parents/teachers/other persons can use ordinary force as a means of discipline, including but not limited to spanking, switching, or paddling. 21 Sec. 844.[Cr.] Criminal penalty for using unreasonable force upon a child under 18. 10
Sec. 7115.[Cr.]

OREGON

Physical force is justified if parent/guardian/other person with the care and supervision of a minor uses reasonable force when and to the extent the person reasonably believes necessary to maintain discipline or promote welfare of  minor. Sec. 161.205. [Cr.]

PENNSYLVANIA

Parents can use reasonable supervision and control when raising their children.23 Sec. 6302.[Ci.] Parent/guardian/person responsible for general care and supervision/ person acting at request of the above may use force for the purpose of safeguarding or promoting welfare of minor including the prevention or punishment of his misconduct, if the force is not designed to cause or known to create a substantial risk of causing death, serious bodily injury, disfigurement, extreme pain, mental distress, or gross degradation. 18 Sec. 509.[Cr.]

RHODE ISLAND

Abuse occurs when a child’s physical or mental welfare is harmed or threatened by a parent or person responsible for child’s welfare, by means including excessive corporal punishment which causes physical or mental injury or creates or allows to be created a substantial risk of physical or mental injury. Sec.40-11-2.[Ci.] Serious physical injury is any injury, other than a serious bodily injury, arising from other than non-excessive corporal punishment. Sec.11-9-5.3. [Cr.]

SOUTH CAROLINA

“Harm” includes excessive corporal punishment. “Harm” does not include corporal punishment or physical discipline if- Administered by a parent or person acting in place of a parent, Perpetrated for the sole purpose of restraining or correcting, Force is reasonable in manner and moderate in degree, There is no permanent damage, and Behavior is not reckless or grossly negligent. Sec. 20-7-490.[Ci.]

SOUTH DAKOTA

It is abuse to cruelly punish. Sec. 26-10-1.[Cr.] Parent/guardian/teacher/school official can use, attempt, or offer to use force if reasonable in manner and moderate in degree, and used to restrain or correct as necessitated by misconduct or refusal to obey a lawful command. Sec.22-18-5 [Cr.]

TENNESSEE

Permits criminal charges against a parent/guardian/custodian who administers “unreasonable” corporal punishment which causes “injury” to the child. Sec. 39-15-401 [Cr.]

TEXAS

Abuse does not include reasonable discipline by a parent/guardian/managing or possessory conservator if child not exposed to substantial risk of harm. Family Code Sec. 261.001.[Ci.] Parent/stepparent/person standing in loco parentis to child is justified to use non-deadly force against a child under 18 when and to degree the actor reasonably believes necessary to discipline, or safeguard or promote child’s welfare. Penal Sec. 9.61.[Cr.]

UTAH

Force is justified if used for reasonable discipline of a minor by parent/guardian/teacher /person standing in loco parentis. Sec. 76-2-401.[Cr.]

WASHINGTON

Physical discipline is not unlawful if reasonable and moderate and inflicted by parent /teacher/guardian for restraint or correction. Presumed unreasonable if the following are used to correct/ restrain: — Throwing, kicking, burning, cutting, striking with a closed fist, shaking a child under 3, interfering with breathing, threatening with a deadly weapon, any other act likely to cause and which does cause bodily harm greater than transient pain or minor temporary marks. [Statute says this list is illustrative and not exclusive]. Age, size,condition of child, and location of injury are all factors in determining “reasonable” and “moderate.” Sec. 9A.16.100.[Cr.]

WEST VIRGINIA

Physical injury can include that which is the result of excessive corporal punishment. Sec. 49-1-3 [Ci.]

WISCONSIN

Use of force is justified when actor’s conduct is reasonable discipline of a child by a person responsible for child’s welfare. Reasonable discipline may involve only such force as a reasonable person believes is necessary. Never reasonable to use force intended to cause great bodily harm or death, or which creates an unreasonable risk of great bodily harm or death. Sec. 939.45.[Cr.]

WYOMING

Abuse include excessive or unreasonable corporal punishment. Sec. 14-3-202.[Ci.] A “neglected child” includes one abused by the infliction of physical or mental injury including excessive or unreasonable corporal punishment. Sec. 14-6-201.[Ci.] Same definition as civil abuse definition. Sec. 6-2-503.[Cr.]

http://familyrightsassociation.com/info/spanking_laws.htm

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NEW ZEALAND

Physical punishment a health risk for children

Outcomes include poorer academic achievement and adjustment to school

Physical punishment of children is associated with the development of antisocial behavior in children, as well as poorer academic achievement and adjustment to school, according to a review of research by Otago University’s Children’s Issues Centre. The review concludes physical punishment is a health risk for children.

The Children’s Issues Centre surveyed more than 300 internationally published peer-reviewed research articles in its investigation, which was commissioned by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (see background sheet for more detail). Lead researcher Professor Anne Smith says the research found physical punishment has only limited success in making children compliant. Professor Smith says the long-term effects of physical punishment were all negative.

�The literature is quite consistent in supporting the conclusion that there is an association between the use of parental corporal punishment and the development of antisocial behaviour in children.�

Effects include:

  • Aggression, disruptive, delinquent and antisocial behaviour, being the victim of violent offending, violent offending, and low peer status.
  • Poorer academic achievement including lower IQ, poorer performance on standardized achievement tests, poorer adjustment to school, more ADHD-like symptoms, and poorer self-esteem.
  • Diminished quality of parent-child relationships, with children likely to be less securely attached to parents and being more likely to feel that their parents do not love them, and to feel fearful or hostile towards parents.
  • Increased depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and psychiatric disorders.
  • Poorer conscience development and less internal control by children over their own behaviour. In contrast the research suggests six principles of effective discipline:-
  • Parental warmth and involvement and attentive, caring and affectionate relationships.
  • Clear communication and messages to children, which are age-appropriate, about why their behaviour is acceptable or not.
  • Use of reasoning, explanation, setting up logical consequences and limit setting.
  • Providing fair, reasonable and clearly defined rules, boundaries and expectations for behaviour.
  • Consistently following behaviours with appropriate consequences � rewards or mild non-physical punishments such as time-out � and having a ratio of about eight or nine positive responses to children’s behaviour, to one negative response.
  • Structuring the situation to avoid encouraging inappropriate behaviour, such as avoiding the provision of negative models and changing the physical environment.

Children’s Commissioner Dr Cindy Kiro says the research has found that an authoritative and firm parenting style, accompanied by warmth, responsiveness, involvement and reasoning is associated with children’s healthy social adjustment. �This is important research because it gives parents evidence-based information about the effects of physical punishment, as well as practical alternatives.�

Dr Kiro points out a recent UNICEF report shows New Zealand had the third highest rate of deaths from child maltreatment in the OECD. The full research findings will be released at a seminar on the use of physical punishment organised by the Children’s Issues Centre, to be held in Wellington on 18-19 June 2004.

Important background information
The review has been written up as a detailed report but a shorter version is being released to the public in June. The review and short report were commissioned by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner and investigate a range of issues � including the effect of physical punishment on children, why parents physically punish children, effective family disciplinary practices and the legal framework for family discipline. Did the researchers find that it is safe to use physical punishment in any circumstances?

Lead researcher Professor Anne Smith says one of the problems highlighted by the review is the lack of agreement over when physical punishment steps over the line and becomes abuse. Professor Smith points out in cases of physical abuse, about two thirds of the time it is preceded by ordinary use of physical punishment for discipline. The danger of physical punishment is that it can easily escalate into physical abuse.

2 June 2004

http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/GE0406/S00011.htm


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June 19, 2009 - Posted by | Gosselin, Greed | ,

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