High-Level Conference on Implementing the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment
15 – 16 November 2018
It is possible to translate the legal ban against corporal punishment into actions that influence
In 1979 Sweden set an example for the rest of the world to follow – by being the first country in the world to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings. Since then, 53 more countries have achieved a legal ban, and more countries are in the process of enacting a legal prohibition. Today, the Baltic Sea Region is a pioneer and model region at
To raise attention to the fact that it is possible to change policies, attitudes and behaviours, the Council of the Baltic Sea States organised a high-level conference on implementing the prohibition of corporal punishment. The conference was co-hosted by the Government of Sweden and in cooperation with the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children.
Violence against children affects children of all ages, and it often starts early in life. This is why violence prevention must start in early childhood by investing in positive parenting practices and by encouraging positive discipline and the upbringing of children through non-violent means. But violence against children is not a fate and it can become a part of a distant past if we invest in strong child protection systems, including the enactment and enforcement of comprehensive legislation to prohibit all forms of violence against children in all settings, including within the home. With clear and explicit legislation, states express their accountability for the safeguard of children’s rights and convey a clear message of condemnation of any form of neglect, abuse and exploitation.
As a parent, I experience high levels of freedom when positively empowering my children and great joy watching them explore their capacities. I am present with them, and I guide consistently – I always knew that I will never apply the parenting methods of my parents. The reward is a close relationship between me and the child. Challenges are many but that is part of life and both parents and child mature in the process.
Traditionally, in Sweden, it was common for parents to beat their children, to discipline them. However, this situation changed from the end of the 60ies when more and more people, policy makers, professionals and mass media understood the harm to children of corporal punishment. The ban in 1979, worked to increase this understanding and today five percent of children in Sweden are subjected to repeated physical child abuse.
Violence can take many forms and have a devastating and lifelong impact on the lives of children. An investment that will affect future families and societies more than we perhaps realize, is to invest in a healthy and happy childhood, safe from all kinds of violence. That should be a priority for families, governments and society as a whole. Putting children at the heart of all policy making and protecting childhood everywhere would be the best investment we could make.
We no longer discuss issues like how many times is it appropriate to hit our wives, husbands, or mothers to make them listen. Nor do we discuss how long should we be hitting animals to make them submit, yet we have had long discussions on violence against children. I am very happy to say that we have finally all agreed on a number of key goals and measures – after all, dignified citizens can only mature in countries which provide their families and children with effective assistance.
By challenging corporal punishment, we are united in pursuit of the equal right of every child to have its human dignity and physical integrity protected and safeguarded. Violence against children, including corporal punishment, can have no part in a culture that is built on the values of dignity, of justice, and of peace.
Children are rights-holders and need to be treated as fully-fledged citizens. No culture can justify violence against children, there should be no space for corporal punishment in our modern societies. Legislation alone is not enough, we need to change mentality and attitudes with a multi-stakeholder approach, working together with families, teachers, civil society and businesses to eradicate all forms of violence against children. I am proud that Sweden, my country, has been the pioneer in banning corporal punishment against children. Let’s join forces to make sure that every child enjoys their right to live free from all forms of violence and reach their full potential.
Find all photos from the Conference on the CBSS Flickr account!