Briefing: Research report - Violence against children

Chloe Stothard
Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A study for the secretary general of the UN has claimed that allowing smacking normalises violence against children and has urged a ban.

The lack of a law against corporal punishment of children in the homemakes violence against children seem "inevitable and normal", accordingto a report for the United Nations.

The UN Secretary General's Study on Violence Against Children urges allnations to outlaw corporal punishment. Just 16 countries have bannedviolent punishment of children at home and England only has a partialban.

The study recommends that all nations ban all forms of violence againstchildren and draw up strategies to tackle it. It adds that all countriesshould discourage people from condoning or normalising violence againstchildren. It recommends family-based care over institutional care, andsays children in residential care should be reintegrated with theirfamilies under the right conditions.

It adds that the IT industry should implement global standards for childprotection in relation to new technologies, fund campaigns on their safeuse, and research hardware and software to protect children. The reportalso says that the secretary general should appoint a specialrepresentative on violence against children with an initial mandate offour years.

In England, the Children Act 2004 allows parents to hit children as"reasonable punishment" as long as it does not leave a mark. A spokesmanfor the NSPCC said: "We are calling on the Government to give childrenthe same legal protection from assault as adults already enjoy - nomore, no less.

The NSPCC believes that this new law is full of holes and fails to meetour human rights obligations. We need a clear law that says violencetowards children is wrong."

FACT BOX

- 53,000 children were murdered around the world in 2002

- 150 million girls and 73 million boys were subjected to sexualviolence in 2002

- 218 million children were involved in child labour

- The study is available from www.violencestudy.org/r25.