The question of whether or not a parent should be allowed to strike their child as a form of punishment is one that is highly controversial and that has many vocal advocates both for and against. On the one hand the argument can be made that a parent should have the right to discipline their own child as they see fit, and that this isn’t an area of life that the government should involve itself in. At the same time though of course this is a position that is open to abuse and can potentially lead to misuse.
In the US corporal punishment by parents is still legal restricted and often carries a bad reputation. In Europe meanwhile the laws are varied from country to country with many completely banning corporal punishment in both schools and the home including Germany, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Luxembourg, Spain and others.
While France and the UK still permit corporal punishment by parents, they are under pressure from the EU to introduce a ban – which is an unpopular prospect among many groups in those countries, and arguments have been made that spanking within reason can help to instil discipline and behaviour and improve academic performance (which has been backed up by some studies). There are also some religious arguments for spanking – and in 1982 the European Commission of Human Rights rejected an application from Christians in Sweden who claimed that the ban on corporal punishment in the country breached their right to religious freedom. The current law in the UK permits striking that ‘does not leave a mark’ under the Children’s Act in 2004, and in France twice as many parents use corporal punishment as in the US; laws which persist even though European Judges ruled that this could constitute a violation of those children’s human rights.
So what do you think? Are the UK and France to be commended for sticking to their guns? Should the EU have a say in how European families raise their children? And is corporal punishment tantamount to abuse?