In the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Little Rock, Friday, May 30, 1997:

"Denmark law bans parents spanking kids

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - By the slimmest of margins, Denmark joined its Nordic neighbors Wednesday in prohibiting parents from spanking their children or using other kinds of corporal punishment.

After a heated debate in the parliament, the bill squeaked by in a 51-50 vote.

Opponents contend that the measure is too intrusive. Tove Fergo of the Liberal Party said the law will "criminalize" parents using normal methods to raise their children.

There was no immediate word on when the law will take effect or what the penalties will be for violators.

Sweden, Norway and Finland have also banned spanking. (AP)"

EPOCH-USA had already counted Denmark as prohibiting corporal punishment of children (based on EPOCH-WORLDWIDE's report). An amendment to the Majority Act - January 1, l986, in the Danish Act on Parental Custody and Conviviality No. 387, Sec. 2, subsec. 2, stated "Parental custody implies the obligation to protect the child against physical and psychological violence and other harmful treatment". In l984, before that was passed, a poll found only 25% of Danes in favor of prohibiting parental use of physical punishment and 68 percent against abolition.

Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Cyprus and Italy are the seven nations counted as having banned corporal punishment of children. The number of nations prohibitting corporal punishment in public education is much larger; the very few who do not include the U.S., Canada, and parts of Australia.

Denmark signed the UN General Assembly "Convention on the Rights of the Child" on 26 January, 1990 and ratified the document on 19 July, 1991. The United States also signed it (16 February, 1995) but has not yet ratified it in Congress.

In June, according to Peter Newell (EPOCH-WORLDWIDE), Latvia's Parliament adopted a new law on Protection of Children's Rights, which came into effect July 8, 1998. Sections 9 and 24 prohibit cruel treatment, torture and all corporal punishment of children including that by parents. Proposals for amendment to the criminal code to make corporal punishmnt a criminal offense are currently under discussion in their Parliament. Latvian "Save the Children" have been particularly involved in lobbying for these reforms.

In Croatia, a bill with identical wording to Sweden's ban received its Third Reading in the Croatian Parliament in June and is due to come into effect January 1 1999.

    In The Guardian, London, Wednesday, September 23, 1998:

"European Court ruling bans corporal punishment of UK children

LONDON - The European Court of Human Rights today awarded 10,000 damages and 20,000 in legal fees to a 14-year-old boy who claimed that a beating from his stepfather contravened the European convention on human rights.

The UK courts had previously decided that the beating, where a stepfather caned the then nine-year-old boy with a three-foot long garden cane, was permitted under the law as 'reasonable chastisement'. The UK court acquitted the stepfather. The boy cannot be named for legal reasons.

The nine-strong panel of judges in Starsbourg today ruled that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The treatment of the applicant by his stepfather was sufficiently severe to reach the level prohibited by Article 3 [of the Convention.]"

Although the court stressed that its decision related only to this specific case, the judges accepted that the case marked the end of all legal physical punishment of children in the UK.

Today's decision effectively makes corporal punishment illegal in the UK, and British legislation will require changes to give children the same rights against assault as adults. The UK will then join Austria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Latvia, Norway and Sweden in banning corporal punishment of children.

Paul Boateng, a Government Health minister, claimed that the boy's punishment was "cruel, inexcusable and has no place in a civilised society". Save the Children welcomed the move: "In countries which banned physical punishment some time ago levels of violence against children are lower than in the UK, there are fewer prosecutions for violence against children and fewer children taken into care."

The charity Barnardos said the decision was an opportunity: "The judgment today gives a chance to change the culture of parenting for our children. We hope that the Government will take this opportunity to give protection to all children."

The National Children's Bureau, which supports the decision, believes that it will not lead to a rash of legal actions against parents. "The purpose and the effect of legal reforms to prohibit corporal punishment is not to prosecute more parents but to change attitudes and practice and thus reduce the need for prosecutions and other formal interventions in families. "Trivial assaults would not in any event lead to prosecutions, just as trivial assaults between adults do not reach court," a spokesman said."

    From The Associated Press, October 14, 1998

"Germany to Join Europe's Child-Protecting Nations--Considers Anti-Slap Law

BONN, Germany - Germany's new liberal government is considering making it illegal to slap children.

A measure to outlaw spanking and slapping children, even as a disciplinary measure, is to be discussed as part of the coalition talks between the victorious Social Democrats and their future government partner, the Greens, newspapers reported Wednesday.

"The right of children to be reared without violence must be anchored in the law books," the new government's designated family minister, Christine Bergmann, was quoted by the Cologne Express as saying.

German law already provides that "degrading disciplinary measures, in particular physical and mental mistreatment, are improper," Bergmann, a Social Democrat, told the newspaper.

Outgoing Family Minister Claudia Nolte condemned violence against children, but said legally speaking that it was impossible to legislate "a childhood without violence."

The Social Democrats and the Greens don't envision strict penalties in a proposed measures to outlaw slapping. However, a Social Democratic family expert, Edith Niehuis, said they want to send a message that "a whack on the behind should no longer be allowed as a parental tool."

Organizations dedicated to child protection welcomed the proposal. (AP)"

Germany was poised to implement a reform a few years ago, but in the end had left the wording vague. The combination of Social Democrats and Greens may now push a proper ban through. The KinderKommission and child protection groups have strongly lobbied for a Swedish-style prohibition, which focuses on education and family support rather than punitive enforcement.

In an AP report, November 12, 1998, "Herta Daeubler-Gmelin said she would propose the measure as a way to protect not only children but also women, elderly people and the handicapped against repeated physical violence... the `scourge of violence' in the home had to end." The new liberal government's justice minister also said, "The idea isn't to send a district attorney after a mother or father if their hand slips once in a stressful situation." The newly elected coalition of Social Democrats and Greens has said they also see the law as discouraging the occasional slap on the behind of a child; adding that they do not envision severe penalties.


     Convention on the Rights of the Child
    * Signatories: 140. Parties: 190
     Declaration of the Rights of the Child