AMSTERDAM — In a proposal that will ban the giving of disciplinary smacks, the Dutch Cabinet has decided to outlaw all forms of violence against children to combat child abuse.
Cabinet ministers decided on Friday that parents will in future be explicitly obligated by law to care for their children and to raise them without emotional or physical violence.
An estimated 50,000 to 80,000 children are victims of child abuse each year and several dozen children die as a result of abuse in the home. An investigation into the extent of abuse in the Netherlands will be completed by the end of 2006.
Violence and child abuse is already illegal in the Netherlands, but the new law is designed to create a higher sense of values among parents, newspaper NRC reported.
"It is good that everyone will ask themselves: 'Is this violence?' It gives an example and a signal to people who can't maintain a standard," Justice Minister Piet Hein said.
The minister also said violence does not belong with parenting and asserted further he was not interested in "endless" discussions over parental smacks. "In principle, you should not hand out a smack. A smack often leads to violence," Donner said.
The new law comes after judges have in the past given highly different rulings regarding parental discipline in child abuse cases. The change in legislation will now shift the weight of evidence so that parents cannot simply claim bruises on their children are the result of disciplinary smacks, news agency ANP reported.
Breaches of regulations can lead to supervision from welfare authorities or the loss of custody. In more serious cases, culprits can be jailed at the order of a court.
In several other European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Austria — where all forms of violence against children is a criminal offence — evidence is starting to be gathered indicating that the law leads to a reduction in the number of child abuse cases.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
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