Equal Protection for Children. An overview of the experience of countries that accord children full legal protection from physical punishment

In the UK, the continued existence of the defence allowing parents to use ‘reasonable chastisement’ when disciplining their children remains a barrier to fully respecting children as human beings in their own right. This report, published by NSPCC, seeks to provide an overview of the available evidence from other countries that have legislated against all physical punishment of children, as an important contribution to informing the debate around similar reform in the UK. It includes the country profiles of Sweden, Finland, Norway, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia, Republic of Croatia, Italy, Israel, and Germany, where the movement against the physical punishment of children has brought about principled legal reform. The report further identifies and discusses key areas of commonality and contrast in the international experience of physical punishment legislation, together with their implications for policy and research. These are:

  • a staged process of legal reform;
  • the influence of high-profile maltreatment cases;
  • enforcement of the law;
  • the effectiveness of non-violent methods of disciplining children; and
  • the effectiveness of public education programmes.
Published 2011-08-24