Netherlands outlaws parental spanking
Source: The Child Rights Information Network (CRIN), March 7, 2007

On 6 March 2007, a new law prohibiting all corporal punishment by parents and carers was passed in the Senate. The law amends the provisions in the Civil Code on parental authority so that article 1:247 now states (unofficial translation):

“(1) Parental authority includes the duty and the right of the parent to care for and raise his or her minor child. (2) Caring for and raising one’s child includes the care and the responsibility for the emotional and physical wellbeing of the child and for his or her safety as well as for the promotion of the development of his or her personality. In the care and upbringing of the child the parents will not use emotional or physical violence or any other humiliating treatment.”

Article 1:248 of the Code applies article 1:247 to all other persons acting in loco parentis.

The Cabinet agreed to proceed with prohibition in February 2005, following a government-commissioned study on the experiences of abolition in other European countries. Department of Justice press releases at the time the “Bill to contribute to the prevention of emotional and physical abuse of children or any other humiliating treatment of children in care and upbringing” was introduced to the Cabinet stressed that the primary purpose of the new law is “to set a standard”. It emphasised that the law would bring the Netherlands into compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and article 17 of the European Social Charter, and address the recommendations made to the Netherlands government by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the European Committee of Social Rights.

Now that the law has been passed, a government Communication Plan to inform parents and the general public about the ban is being prepared. The law is expected to come into force by the summer.

At least 16 countries in Europe have enacted bans on corporal punishment by parents and all other carers: Sweden (1979); Finland (1983); Norway (1987); Austria (1989); Cyprus (1994); Denmark (1997); Latvia (1998); Croatia (1999); Germany (2000); Bulgaria (2000), Iceland (2003); Romania (2004); Ukraine (2004), Hungary (2004), Greece (2006); Netherlands (2007). In addition, a Supreme Court judgment in Italy (1996) declared all corporal punishment to be unlawful, but this has not yet been confirmed in legislation. At least six more states have committed themselves to full law reform in the near future: Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain.

The pace of reform is gathering momentum in light of the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children, which recommended in its final report prohibition in law of all corporal punishment of children by 2009. Many more governments across the world have committed themselves to full prohibition, including at least a further six in Europe.



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