SPANKING - Questions and answers about disciplinary violence
Declaration against "disciplinary" violence
On August 7th, 1990, France signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 19 of this Convention stipulates that signatory nations "shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse."
Currently in France, according to a January 1999 SOFRES survey, 80% of parents give their children face-slaps and spankings, to say nothing of whippings with a belt or martinet. Nearly everyone views this as normal, benign, and even necessary. Social services and the courts do not intervene except in extreme cases.
Why is it permissible to strike a child, while it is forbidden to strike an adult man, a woman, an elderly person, or, in prison, the worst of criminals? It would seem that our laws allow assault only upon the weakest.
Children have the right to be raised without violence, which is not to say without firmness.
Numerous recent studies, as reported by the WHO in November 2002, have found that academic difficulties, delinquency, violence, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, various illnesses, and even accidents very often stem from the violence, moderate or otherwise, endured in childhood. Now that we know this, we no longer have the excuse of ignorance that our parents had.
Is it any great surprise that some young people resort to violence when their first model of violence, by and large, was that of their own parents hitting them across the face, head, back, or buttocks? The child who is hit learns to hit others. The child who is respected learns to respect others. Is it the job of parents to teach violence or respect?
Parents who hit their children to discipline them do so because they themselves were hit and do not know the effects of their blows. Only a categorical ban, like that which in France has banned hitting at school since the 19th century, can put an end to this cycle. France should follow the lead of eleven countries so far [twenty-four as of 2009], nine of them being European [nineteen as of 2009], by enacting a specific law against all mistreatment, including spanking, slaps, light smacks, etc. This law should be attended not by judicial penalties but by a broad educational outreach to parents as well as future parents concerning the effects of hitting and how to raise children without violence, just as motorists are expected to be familiar with the rules of the road.
We, the undersigned, call upon the government and its deputies to bring French law into accord with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as required by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, and to enact a specific law that will truly ban all forms of violence toward children. The text of this law might be similar to that of the Danish law: "The child has the right to care and security. He or she shall be treated with respect as an individual and may not be subjected to corporal punishment or any other degrading treatment.” [translation source: endcorporalpunishment.org]
I agree with the above statement. I ask that you quickly do all in your power to reconcile our laws to the Convention on the rights of the Child.
First and last name: ____________________
Address : ____________________
Signature : ____________________
Submit this statement :
[NOTE: Those who wish to send this declaration to France's prime minister, a member of its National Assembly or other French-speaking recipients can print the original French version (updated) here.]
This statement may be circulated by e-mail, or as a petition or tract, for example to distribute at school exits at dismissal time. It is launched with the support of the group Ni claques ni fessées (Tél: 01 46 38 21 22), who welcomes the involvement of associations, parties, and religious authorities. For more information, especially on the dangers of hitting and on raising children without violence, or to relate your participation in the diffusion of this statement, write to: O. Maurel, Chemin de la Cibonne 83220 Le Pradet, or at the e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us treat children as we would want them to treat us.
APPENDIX I, APPENDIX II, APPENDIX III, APPENDIX IV