Five more States ban corporal punishment this year

Date: 12th November 2014
Category: Equal protection from violence

So far in 2014, five more States have enacted a full prohibition on all forms of corporal punishment of children. These are Malta, Brazil, Bolivia, Cape Verde and, most recently, Argentina.

41 States worldwide have now banned all corporal punishment of children. More than half of the Council of Europe's 47 member States have either achieved full prohibition or committed themselves to do so soon. Among the 27 EU States, just four - the UK among them - have neither prohibited nor committed themselves to do so.

The wording in each State's new legislation reportedly shows increased recognition of corporal punishment as a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Young children are among the most likely to experience corporal punishment and are most vulnerable to its many negative effects. There is worldwide concern about violence against young children in the home and elsewhere, yet the legal and social acceptance of violent punishment continues. The legality and practice of violent punishment is seldom explicitly addressed in the promotion of early childhood care and education services or in efforts to improve young children's health and development.

The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children has published a new briefing, 'Young children's right to an end to all violent punishment.' The briefing urges organisations promoting improved conditions for young children to incorporate advocacy for the prohibition and elimination of corporal punishment into their work on violence against children, early childhood care and education, children's health and development and other related topics.

Children do not have the same level of protection from violence as adults in Scots law. There is a provision for 'justifiable assault' which parents can use as a defence when or if they physically assault a child. The current 'justifiable assault' defence undermines the work that professionals are doing with families on positive parenting.

In its annual State of Children's Rights reports, Together has repeated its recommendation to the Scottish Government to repeal the defence of 'justifiable assault' of children so that they are given equal protection from assault in law.