Children’s Rights Alliance calls on Government to ban violence against children within the home

Published date: 
2 Sep 2013

Dublin 2 September 2013

The Children’s Rights Alliance is calling on Minister Frances Fitzgerald to make good on the Government’s commitments under international law and to ban ‘corporal punishment’ within the home and alternative care settings.

The Government has until 27 September to respond to the European Committee of Social Rights following a formal complaint against Ireland by the Association for the Protection of All Children (APPROACH). This is the latest in a long line of international complaints against Ireland and follows recommendations by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the 5th Report of the Rapporteur on Child Protection that corporal punishment be banned in Ireland.

Currently, physical punishment of children by parents/legal caregivers, childminders and foster parents is permissible in Irish law. The Children’s Rights Alliance believes this is unacceptable. The Alliance is urging the Government to remove the common law defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’, and is calling for an outright ban on violence against children in all settings.

Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance Tanya Ward said, “All forms of violence against children are wrong.

Physical punishment of children is invariably degrading and harmful. It is abuse and ill-treatment; it never does any good. Our law recognises that we cannot strike another adult, why can we still strike children?

Ireland has a responsibility to protect our most vulnerable in whatever context harm may arise – be that in the family home, in foster care or with a childminder. Today, as many children return to school we must ask ourselves why they are protected against abuse in school but do not have the same protection at home.

The State can no longer continue to ignore international and domestic calls for this harmful practice to come to an end.”

Note for Editors

  • Approach v Ireland.
  • A Government-commissioned telephone survey of 1,353 parents found that 42% thought that ‘smacking’ a child should be made illegal, 34% said it should remain legal and 24% said it depended on the age of the child. *Halpenny A et al (2010) Parenting Styles and Discipline: Parents’ Perspectives
  • A lack of clear understanding of the law was displayed by the parents surveyed, with similar proportions believing that it was illegal or legal to physically punish a child
  • In 1965 in Sweden, 53% of people said they would oppose a ban on corporal punishment. After the ban was implemented, this figure reduced to 11% by the mid 1980s. *Shannon, Geoffrey , (2011) 5th Report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection

Effects of corporal punishment

  • Corporal punishment of children is associated with the following behaviours in the child or the child as an adult
  • Increased Aggression, Delinquent and Anti-social Behaviour
  • Decreased Quality of Parent-Child relationship and Mental Health
  • Increased incidence of adult abuse of own child or spouse and becoming a victim of physical abuse Gershoff, Elizabeth (2002) Corporal Punishment by Parents and Associated Child Behaviours and Experiences
Children's Rights Alliance