Monday, March 16, 2015

Blog #4 France violates treaty on smacking - Council of Europe

France has been criticized by Europe's top human rights watchdog for its failure to explicitly ban smacking children.  The Council of Europe stated that France's laws on corporal punishment were "not sufficiently clear, binding and specific". The laws in France recognizes the parents' "right to discipline" their children but forbid violence against children. The ruling comes after a complaint by a British children’s charity against France and six other EU countries. “Approach,” the charity, says the countries are violating a section of the European Social Charter calling on signatories to protect children. The Council of Europe doesn’t have power to sanction member states. It has called for all of its 47 members to ban corporal punishment of children. So far, only 27 have banned the practice.
The Council's European Committee of Social Rights said: "There is now a wide consensus at both the European and international level among human rights bodies that the corporal punishment of children should be expressly and comprehensively prohibited in law." Approach spokesman Peter Newell said: "In many countries, violent punishment of children is the only form of inter-personal violence in the family that is still legal. We are pleased that the Council finds France in violation of the Social Charter." The French government denies the allegations put forward by Approach, saying existing laws already offered sufficient protection for children. In reaction to the reports and media, France’s Family Minister Laurence Rossignol said she did not believe it was necessary to legislate on the issue of smacking. She said, "We don't need a law, but we do need to collectively consider the usefulness of corporal punishment in bringing up children." A poll from 2007 stated that 87% of French parents had smacked their children on the bottom, with 32% saying they had given them a "resounding" slap on the face. Coordinator of the anti-smacking campaign by Fondation Pour L’Enfance, Gilles Lazimi stated that 50% of French parents hit their children before they reach two years old. Polls have shown widespread support in both Britain and France for the right to smack children, but the laws in France have occasionally caused controversy. In 2013, a case that reignited the debate about corporal punishment in France was that of a father who was fined €500 (equivalent to 560 USD) for spanking his nine-year-old son. The Council of Europe is due to announce its decisions on other countries included in the Approach complaint in May.
This is a very interesting article to me because I feel like the United States has very different laws about spanking children and child abuse. I grew up in an abusive family, and my mother was very physical with us. I can remember many times when spanking or switching was a normal form of punishment, although it is frowned upon now. I have many friends who were raised in very different backgrounds and have never been spanked, and I feel like we are comparable when it comes to discipline in adult life. I think that there is a fine line between spanking and child abuse, but that is because there aren’t any specific laws on what is legal and what is illegal. Of course, it is well known that if you are hitting a child to the point of bruising, bleeding, breaking bones, or (in extreme cases) death, it is considered child abuse. I am unaware of any laws in the United States that make disciplining your child by spanking an illegal action. Until there are laws of this nature, spanking your own children is not considered child abuse.

Andrika Payne

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