French MPs vote for 'symbolic' ban on smacking children

French MPs vote for 'symbolic' ban on smacking children
Copyright Pixabay/rubberduck1951
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros with AFP
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France has got closer to prohibiting smacking children after French MPs voted for a 'symbolic' ban that's meant to educate parents not to use corporal punishment.


The French National Assembly has voted in favour of a "symbolic ban" against parents smacking their children.

The bill on "corporal punishment", considered symbolic because it does not sanction parents if they smack their children, aims to educate parents to not punish with physical violence.

MPs voted the bill through early on Friday morning and it will now pass to the Senate.

Maud Petit, an MP from the Democratic Movement group who introduced the measure, said violence "was not a form of education but all the opposite", according to French media.

The bill does, however, amend the Civil Code's definition of parental authority, to prohibit discipline by "physical, psychological, and verbal violence."

Those in favour of the bill have cited various scientific studies, which say corporal punishment has negative physical and mental consequences on children.

For example, if a parent who goes to their child's school and learns they've done something naughty and makes a comment referring to hitting the child, the teacher will be allowed to lecture the parent on their discipline methods.

France has been criticised in the past by the international community for not banning corporal punishment.

In 2015, the Council of Europe called out France for not banning corporal punishment. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child took up the issue a year later and asked France to prohibit all forms of physical punishment.

The measure would make France conform to international legislation. Other attempts to ban the practice of corporal punishment in the past have failed.

If the bill passes, France would become the 55th country to ban corporal punishment on children. According to the Global Initiative to End all Corporal Punishment of Children, there are 54 states that have prohibited corporal punishment on children including in the home.

In Europe, the first country to ban corporal punishment on children was Sweden in 1979. Italy, the UK, Belgium, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland still allow parents to smack their children.

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