January 22, 2010
A recent report published by the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children provides information about world wide progress towards universal prohibition of all corporal (physical) punishment of children.
There are now 26 countries which have enacted laws prohibiting corporal punishment of children in all settings. New Zealand is, of course, one of these. In many other countries there are positive commitments and campaigns underway. The report provides extensive information on the status of countries world-wide.
In New Zealand it is many years since physical punishment was legal in settings other than the home (banned in 2007) but in some parts of the world children are still beaten in schools, penal institutions and alternative care settings and are the victims of outdated, inhumane and violent practices.
Introductory messages to the Report from Marta Santos Pias (Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children), Professor Yanghee Lee (Chairperson, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child) and Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro (previously the Independent Expert who led the UN Secretary General’s Study On Violence against Children) all make it clear that respect for children’s human rights to dignity and physical integrity through the banning of corporal punishment is a critical part of protecting children from all violence.
Children’s human right to dignity, physical integrity and full protection from violence are the fundamental underpinnings of a legal ban on use of force in the correction of children. All too often this fact gets lost as New Zealanders debate parent’s perceived right to discipline their children as they see fit and the irrelevant question of whether a small smack does any harm.