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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

Child corporal punishment: spanking

Legal status of spanking.

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Overview:

All countries have laws that prohibit most physical assaults. But these same laws often have "not withstanding" clauses that permit assaults:

bulletin a boxing ring,
bulletof reasonable intensity in a parent-child situation, and
bulletof reasonable intensity in a teacher-student situation.

For example, under California law,

"... a parent has the right to reasonably discipline a child by physical punishment and may administer reasonable punishment without being liable for battery. In order to be considered disciplinary the punishment must:"

bulletBe necessary (i.e. there it must be in response to a child's negative behavior).
bulletBe reasonable, not excessive, in the judgment of a third party -- e.g. a Child Protective Services representative, or a law enforcement officer. 1

Whoever wrote the law seems to have assumed that when a child exhibits negative behavior, there is no alternate to corporal punishment.

Current status of punishment by parents in North America:

As of 2009-MAY, corporal punishment by parents is allowed, with restrictions:
 
bulletU.S.: All 50 states and the District of Columbia permit the corporal punishment of children. However, physical abuse is not allowed. Unfortunately, thousands of parents start with spanking and escalate to abuse every year.
 
bulletCanada: All of the 10 provinces and three territories of Canada, allow the use of "minor corrective force,"  but it can only be "of a transient and trifling nature." There are also minimum and maximum age limits. The use of implements is forbidden; only the open hand can be used. More details.

Current status of punishment in North American schools:

As of 2008-NOV, there is no uniformity concerning corporal punishment in schools:
 

bulletU.S.: 21 states in the U.S. still allow corporal punishments in schools. 2 The most recent state to abolish school spanking is believed to be Delaware. Governor Minner signed a bill during 2003-APR that bans the practice. 3
 
bulletCanada: A 2004-JAN ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada abolished corporal punishment in public and private schools. More details.

Current status in Europe:

Seventeen states ban corporal punishment of children both in the home, school, and elsewhere:
bulletSweden (1979), Finland (1983), Norway (1987), Austria (1989), Cyprus (1994), Italy (1996), Denmark (1997), Latvia (1998), Croatia (1999),
bulletBulgaria and Germany (2000),
bulletRomania and Ukraine (2004),
bulletHungary (2005),
bulletGreece, Netherlands, and Portugal (2007). 4

As of 2009-MAY, the only European countries to allow corporal punishment in both the home and school are the Czech Republic and France:

     Corporal punishment prohibited in schools and the home
     Corporal punishment prohibited in schools only
     Corporal punishment not prohibited
5

The European Network of Ombudsmen for Children (ENOC) urges the governments of all European countries, the European Union, the Council of Europe and other European institutions and non-governmental organizations concerned with children to work collectively and individually towards ending all corporal punishment of children:

"As spokespeople for the children of Europe, we believe that eliminating violent and humiliating forms of discipline is a vital strategy for improving children's status as people, and reducing child abuse and all other forms of violence in European societies. This is a long overdue reform, with huge potential for improving the quality of lives and family relationships.". 6

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Current status in other countries:

There are relatively few non-European countries that ban corporal punishment. For example:
bulletIsrael (2000),
bulletIceland (2003),
bulletNew Zealand, Uruguay, and Venezuela (2007)
bulletCosta Rica (2008).

Bans are currently being actively debated in many other countries.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Parents rights to discipline in California," Pacific Justice Institute, at: http://www.pacificjustice.org/
  2. "21 to Go!," at: http://www.thehittingstopshere.com/
  3. "Breaking News: Delaware becomes 28th state to ban school paddling," Press release from the National Coalition to Abolish Corporal Punishment in Schools and the Center for Effective Discipline, 2003-APR-1 at: http://nospank.net/
  4. "VENEZUELA: Second Latin American country to ban corporal punishment," 2007-DEC-20, at: http://nospank.net/
  5. The graphic is copied from Wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/  This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License. You are free to share and make derivative works of the image under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one. See: Official license. Image updated from Wikipedia periodically.
  6. "European Network of Ombudsmen for Children" (ENOC) at: http://www.ombudsnet.org/

Copyright © 1995 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-FEB-02
Author: B.A. Robinson

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