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News

Spanking childrenBack
[Published: Wednesday December 03 2014]

Stokholm, 3 Dec. - (ANA) - Spanking, hitting, caning. Illegal in Sweden, and in 43 other countries as of this week.
It has been 35 years since Sweden became the first country in the world to prohibit
corporal punishment of children. Even though almost all countries worldwide have
ratified the UN adopted Convention on the Rights of Child, which includes protecting
children from physical violence, still only a relative few have put legal measures in place
against corporal punishment. 90 percent of the world’s children live in countries where
physical violence against them is still legal.
There has been recent momentum towards legislation, with Brazil, San Marino and Estonia
implementing legal bans within just the last few months. But why the overall slow legal
development?
Cultural norms, privacy issues, and religious beliefs all play into the historical acceptance of
physical discipline. It is often said that confusion on definitions and “acceptable levels”, and
an unwillingness for parents to consider their behavior abusive, also contribute to the
difficulty in swaying public opinion in many countries.
However, for the growing number of countries that have legislated against corporal
punishment, the definitions are quite clear. “It is a basic human right to grow up free from
violence of any kind,” says Emma Kristensson of BRIS (Children’s Rights in Society). ”Even
lesser forms of aggression and violence have long term effects on you as an individual.” In
other words, the acceptable level of physical discipline is quite simply, none.
“There is a summary of 150 international studies that we refer to, and all of them show that
the consequences of corporal punishment are very negative,” says Eva Bellander, Senior
Advisor of Child Protection at Save the Children Sweden. “The are no studies showing the
benefits of corporal punishment, at all.”
And then there are questions about effective alternatives. Bellander continues, “”We advocate
Positive Discipline techniques based on respect and responsibility and which take into
account principles of child development. There are many alternatives.”
To those countries hesitant to challenge what is often seen as parental rights and authority,
Kristensson responds, ”It’s crucial to move away from the discussion of parental rights. If you
instead look at the individual child’s rights, and their inherent right to live a life free from
violence, you really change perceptions of society as a whole.”
With human rights issues at the top of the social and political agenda in Sweden in the 1970’s,
children’s individual rights also came into focus. An estimated 50% of Swedish parents in the
early 1970’s were still using physical punishment to discipline their children. Dovetailing
with changing societal beliefs at the time, a massive awareness raising campaign along with

the legislation against corporal punishment, contributed to the long standing support against
corporal punishment. Even so, change has taken time.
“It has taken 35 years to reach the point we are at today in Sweden, but we still have an
estimated 2-3% of parents using physical means to discipline. We still have more to do”, adds
Bellander. “Legislation alone is not enough, you must have awareness and public support.”
And the work still to do goes beyond the issue of corporal punishment. Sweden has recently
committed to signing the entire Convention of the Rights of the Child into law. The country
has received criticism in the past by UNICEF and other agencies, which see the complete
legal backing as important for enforcing rights for all children in Sweden, in particular,
children of immigrant families. - (ANA)

AB/ANA/ 3 December 2014  - - -

 


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