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Ending the Physical Punishment of Children. ‘Sdim Curo Plant! Children are Unbeatable! Cymru. What Children Say. ‘It makes you feel sad’ (girl 8) ‏ ‘It burns your bottom’ (boy 5) ‏ ‘It’s horrible…painful’ (girl 9) ‏ ‘Feel like you’re gonna die’ (girl 6) ‏ ‘Feel ill’ (boy 6) ‏

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Ending the physical punishment of children
Ending the Physical Punishment of Children

  • ‘Sdim Curo Plant! Children are Unbeatable! Cymru

What children say
What Children Say

  • ‘It makes you feel sad’ (girl 8)‏

  • ‘It burns your bottom’ (boy 5)‏

  • ‘It’s horrible…painful’ (girl 9)‏

  • ‘Feel like you’re gonna die’ (girl 6)‏

  • ‘Feel ill’ (boy 6)‏

  • ‘Inside your body hurts’ (girl 6)‏

    (Children Talk: About Smacking, SC 2003)‏

Purpose of presentation
Purpose of Presentation

  • To provide information on

    • the issue of physical punishment of children

    • The current legal position in the UK

  • Promote discussion & answer questions

  • Discuss ways you or your organisation could support the No Physical Punishment message

Sdim curo plant children are unbeatable
'Sdim Curo Plant!Children Are Unbeatable!

  • Set up in 2000

  • Part of a UK wide campaign/alliance of individuals & organisations

  • Campaigning for:

    1. Legal change - removal of ‘reasonable punishment’ defence

    2. Promotion of ‘positive’ non violent methods of managing children’s behaviour - no physical punishment

Current legal position
Current Legal Position

  • Children are the only group of UK citizens who can be legally hit

  • “reasonable punishment” is a defence against a charge of “common assault”

  • ‘reasonable chastisement’ is old common law defence dating back to 1860 which was replaced as part of the Children Act 2004, which came into force on Jan 15th 2005

  • 10 Welsh MP’s voted for the clause (defeated) which would have given equal protection for children

Common assault for children is
Common assault for children is:

  • The vulnerability of the victim, such as when the victim is…..a child assaulted by an adult (so that where an assault causes any of the injuries referred to in sub-paragraph (vii) above, other than reddening of the skin, the charge will normally be assault occasioning actual bodily harm, although prosecutors must bear in mind that the definition of assault occasioning actual bodily harm requires the incident to be more than transient and trifling);

The purpose of legal reform
The Purpose of Legal Reform

  • Is to give children equal protection under the law as that enjoyed by adults

  • Is NOT to criminalize parents

  • Is to protect children

  • Is to promote healthy relationships

  • Is to reduce conflict within and outside the home

  • Is an example of using the law as an educational tool

Physical punishment a research definition
Physical Punishment - a research definition

“Corporal punishment is the use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, to correct or control his behaviour. This definition mentions the “intention of causing a child to experience pain” for 2 reasons. The first reason is to distinguish it from acts that have other purposes but that also may cause pain, such as putting antiseptic on a cut. The second reason is to make clear the fact that causing pain is intentional, not a side-effect.”

(Strauss 1996)‏

Research 1 linking physical punishment and physical abuse
Research 1: Linking Physical Punishment and Physical Abuse

Examples of growing evidence of a connection

  • NSPCC 1980-89: most prosecuted abuse began as ‘ordinary punishment that went too far’

  • Canadian ‘incidence study’ 1993: 85% of all substantial cases of abuse involved ”punishment”

  • Durrant’s Swedish study 1999: after the ban on parental corporal punishment, child deaths at parents’ hands fell from 1 per year to 1 in seven years compared with 1 per week in the UK

Research 2 effects of physical punishment a meta analysis of 88 studies
Research 2: Effects of physical punishment - a meta-analysis of 88 studies

  • Increased aggression – as child & adult

  • Less capacity for empathy

  • Less internalisation of moral aspects of discipline

  • Increased probability of antisocial & criminal behaviour in adulthood – including spousal and/or child abuse

  • Evidence of compromised mental health

  • Some increase in immediate compliance - least in ages 2-6 and amongst boys

    (E.Thompson Gershoff, 2002)‏

Research 3 wide ranging results of childhood smacking
Research 3: Wide-ranging results of childhood smacking meta-analysis of 88 studies

  • Five times the rate of non-compliance amongst toddlers

  • A four-fold increase in severe assaults on siblings

  • Double the rate of physical aggression amongst six-year olds against other children in school

  • Significantly more chance of 4-year olds failing to fulfil the cognitive potential they displayed at 1 year

  • An 84% increase in the likelihood of violent behaviour in adolescence


Research 4 positive effects of not using or of giving up physical punishment
Research 4: Positive effects of not using – or of giving up – physical punishment

  • Where ADHD & aggression co-exist, changing violent/coercive home discipline deals with the conduct disorder.

    (Paterson 2001)‏

  • The only children whose aggressive conduct was not improved by a special programme were those whose mothers used violent discipline at home.

    (Webster Stratton 2001)‏

Context 1 united nations convention on the rights of the child
Context 1: United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • 191 countries have ratified. UK in 1991

  • Article 19 - ‘protect from physical… violence…maltreatment..from parents, guardians, carers’

  • Article 24 - take measures to abolish.. ‘traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children’

Context 2 europe
Context 2: Europe Child

European Convention on Human Rights

  • Article 3 - no one shall be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment

  • 1998 - A-v-UK Case, UK found in breach of Article 3

    European Social Charter

  • Article 17 requires a prohibition in legislation against any form of violence against children

Context 3 other countries
Context 3: Other Countries Child

23 Countries have introduced principled legal reform to ban smacking:

Austria(1989) Bulgaria (2000) Costa Rica (2008)‏

Croatia(1999) Cyprus(1994) Denmark(1997)

Finland(1983) Germany(2000) Greece (2006)

Hungary (2005) Iceland(2003) Israel(2000)

Latvia(1998) Netherlands (2007)‏ New Zealand 2007)

Norway(1987) Portugal (2007) Romania (2004)

Spain (2007) Sweden(1979) Ukraine (2004)

Uruguay (2007) Venezuela (2007)‏


Sweden Child

1979 Sweden is first country to ban smacking

  • public support for physical punishment 53%(1965) to 11% (1994)‏

  • no increase in prosecutions

  • decreasing number of children into care

  • evidence of parents seeking help earlier

  • no increase in ‘anti-social’ behaviours

    (A Generation Without Smacking - SC 2000)‏

What children say1
What Children Say Child

  • ‘It makes you feel sad’ (girl 8)‏

  • ‘It burns your bottom’ (boy 5)‏

  • ‘It’s horrible…painful’ (girl 9)‏

  • ‘Feel like you’re gonna die’ (girl 6)‏

  • ‘Feel ill’ (boy 6)‏

  • ‘Inside your body hurts’ (girl 6)‏

    (Children Talk: About Smacking - SC 2003)‏

Governments attitudes
Governments' Attitudes Child

  • Westminster say NO to change

  • WAG committed to legal change since Oct 02

Welsh assembly government
Welsh Assembly Government Child

Non-devolved area of responsibility

WAG committed to legal change since Oct 02

First UK country to take principled stand & consistently recognises :

  • children’s rights (UNCRC),

  • a child protection issue

  • part of Domestic Abuse agenda

  • need for parental support

    Numerous representations to Westminster

    Keen to find ways to promote Assembly’s stance

Wag booklet
WAG Booklet Child

  • Booklet on Positive Parenting with the “No Smacking” message is being developed through Fforwm Magu Plant – Raising Children Forum

  • To go with “From Breakfast to Bedtime” and “Over the top behaviour…..”


Help at hand toolkit
Help at Hand Toolkit Child

  • A toolkit to change attitudes and behaviour around the physical punishment of children

  • Launched by SCP!CAU! in March 2008

  • Materials which can be used by a wide variety of groups and individuals

  • Web base toolkit with links to other resources, and activities and information sheets on the site


Hitting children is wrong and the law should say so
Hitting Children is wrong, and the law should say so! Child

Physical Punishment:

  • breaches children’s human rights

  • causes hurt & harm

  • is ineffective

  • is domestic violence/abuse

  • gives out message ‘might is right’

  • adds to levels of violence in society

A last word for children
A Last Word for Children Child

A big person should not hit a small person, not anyone ever.

Amy, Age 6