Parents in France could be banned from smacking their children under new laws.
Members of the French Parliament voted to outlaw “corporal punishment or humiliation”, after 85 per cent of parents admitted to hitting their children, according to multiple reports.
The civil code will be updated to state that parental authority must be exercised “without violence” of any sort — including “physical, verbal or psychological violence”. The ban was approved in the early hours of Friday, with 51 votes in favour, one against and three abstentions.
The ban was proposed by France’s gender equality minister, Marlene Schiappa, who told a French newspaper that parents are wrong to believe that “shouting, slapping or twisting children’s ears” are appropriate ways to assert authority.
If the bill is adopted by the Senate, France will become the 55th country to outlaw corporal punishment of children.
It’s a topic most parents and grandparents have an opinion on and experts in the UK recently warned that smacking children could negatively impact their mental health.
While it’s not illegal for parents to smack their children at home in many countries, the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) claims smacking and corporal punishment is harmful to a child’s mental health and has called for it to be banned.
While many parents use a smack as a way of disciplining their children, the AEP has argued that smacking models aggressive behaviour and tells children it is acceptable to use violence. It also claimed that as many as two in five parents who smack their child admitted to using a greater degree of force than intended.
Furthermore, the organisation claimed corporal punishment creates lower quality of the relationship between the parent and child being smacked, increases levels of aggression and anti-social behaviour and could even increase the child’s risk of being a victim of physical abuse.
In the UK, it is legal for a parent or carer to smack their own child when it amounts to “reasonable punishment”, as laid down in section 58 of the Children Act 2004.
Meanwhile, in Australia, corporal punishment by a parent or carer is lawful and is not considered child abuse provided that it is “reasonable”, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Corporal punishment of children including hitting and smacking is illegal in 54 countries, with many more working towards the same goal.