New generations of parents in Finland are less likely to physically punish their children. Today ten percent of parents say corporal punishment is acceptable, down from 50 percent in the 1980s.
A survey conducted by the Finnish Central Union for Child Welfare suggests Finns’ attitudes toward corporal punishment have changed. Today the physical chastisement of children is generally considered unacceptable.
Heikki Sariola, a senior advisor at the organisation, said the results were surprising.
”This signals a major shift in Finnish culture,” he explained, adding that many of today's parents were themselves raised without fear of physical violence at home.
Finnish law has prohibited the corporal punishment of children since 1984. But many parents still legitimise milder forms physical punishment, including hair-pulling, slapping, whipping and knuckle-rapping. Nearly 40 percent of parents admitted to pulling kids’ hair and 20 percent have slapped hands.
“It’s problematic that parents don’t think this qualifies as violence, or then they may just be defending their own actions,” Sariola surmises.
Few respondents directly condoned the physical punishment of children. The union said it appears as if the no-hitting philosophy has seeped into the national psyche. Today 97 percent of those surveyed were aware of the law, up from 94 percent in 2004.
The union polled around 1,000 Finns between 15–79 for the survey.