[CARACAS, 10 December 2007] – On 10 December 2007, a new law was passed in Venezuela which bans all forms of physical and humiliating punishment of children. The law makes Venezuela the second Latin American country to pass such a law; Uruguay last month became the first.
The reform of the law which protects children and young people includes a provision for children’s right to be well treated and bans all forms of physical and humiliating punishment.
Carlos Trapani from child rights organisation Cecodap, who led the advocacy campaign, said: “Corporal punishment is a violent phenomenon. It is a violation of human rights.”
The new law:
Article 32a. The right to good treatment All children and young people have a right to be treated well. This right includes a non-violent education and upbringing, based on love, affection, mutual understanding and respect, and solidarity.
Parents, representatives, guardians, relatives, and teachers should use non-violent methods of education and discipline to raise and educate their children. Consequently, all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited. The State, with the active participation of society, must ensure policies, programmes and protection measures are in place to abolish all forms of physical and humiliating punishment of children and young people.
Corporal punishment is defined as the use of force, in raising or educating children, with the intention of causing any degree of physical pain or discomfort to correct, control or change the behaviour of children and young people.
Humiliating punishment can be understood as any form of offensive, denigrating, devaluing, stigmatising or mocking, treatment, carried out to raise or educate children and young people, with the aim of disciplining, controlling or changing their behaviour.
Article 56. The right to be respected by teachers. All children and young people have the right to be respected by their teachers, and receive an education based on love, affection, mutual understanding, national identity, mutual respect for ideas and beliefs, and solidarity. Consequently, all forms of physical and humiliating punishment are prohibited.
Article 358. Content of the responsibility for raising children. The responsibility for raising children includes the shared duty and right, which is equal and non-derogable, of the father and mother to love, raise, train, educate, and look after their children, sustain and assist them financially, morally and emotionally, using appropriate corrective measures that do not violate their dignity, rights, guarantees or overall development. Consequently, all forms of physical punishment, psychological violence and humiliating treatment, which harm children and young people, are prohibited.
Stated purpose: A new human right – the right to be treated well - has been introduced to reinforce children and young people’s status as rights-holders, and to ensure the full recognition of their dignity and personal integrity. This right includes a non-violent upbringing and education, based on love, affection, mutual understanding and respect, and solidarity. In addition to an express ban on all forms of physical and humiliating punishment, fathers, mothers, representatives, guardians, relatives and teachers have an obligation to use non-violent methods to raise, train, educate and discipline children and young people, to ensure the implementation of this right. This new regulation is a step towards achieving abolition of all forms of abuse of children and young people, and building the legal foundations for a new and peaceful society.
Nations that have modernized their laws so that statutory protection against assault and battery applies to all persons irrespective of age are listed here with their respective dates of reform: Sweden - 1979, Finland - 1983, Norway - 1987, Austria - 1989, Cyprus - 1994, Italy -1996, Denmark - 1997, Latvia - 1998, Croatia - 1999, Bulgaria - 2000, Germany - 2000, Israel - 2000, Iceland - 2003, Ukraine - 2004, Romania - 2004, Hungary - 2005, Greece - 2007, Netherlands - 2007, New Zealand - 2007, Portugal - 2007, Uruguay - 2007 and Venezuela - 2007.
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