French lower house approves parental smacking ban

French lower house approves parental smacking ban
By Robert Hackwill
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The law does not set punishments for offenders, and has to be approved by the Senate before going in the statute books.


Members of the French parliament have voted in favour of a ban on parents smacking their children, falling into line with the majority of European Union member states, although there will be no punishment for breaking the law.

The civil code will be updated to state that parental authority must be exercised without violence and that parents may not resort to "physical, verbal or psychological violence, nor to corporal punishment or humiliation".

The ban was approved in a thinly-attended National Assembly in a session that began late Thursday evening, with 51 votes in favour, one against and three abstentions.

"A child must feel that he is in a place of trust, of shared building, of this capacity to build a new world, a new model." said a member of the ruling La Republique en Marche party, François-Michel Lambert.

It reverses parental rights to discipline children using corporal punishment granted under Napoleon in the early 1800s.

"We know that routine violence in child rearing could have its consequences on the child, and also on the adolescent and the adult that he or she will become," said Elsa Faucillon from the Democratic and Republican Left party.

The ban was proposed by France's gender equality minister, Marlene Schiappa, who told Le Parisien newspaper that parents are wrong to believe that shouting, slapping or twisting children's ears are appropriate ways to assert authority.

French First Lady Brigitte Macron also supported the ban, but a few conservative and far-right MPs have condemned it as an interference in families' private lives.

As part of the vote, the government will prepare a report about parental violence and propose measures to educate parents.

It is getting a mixed reception from the public. but professionals are in broad agreement.

"There must be limits, we must block and prohibit some things, we must teach, and we must get out of this 'child is king' idea, but it is important to be able to stop using physical actions and use more evolved means such as language and positive emotions." said Child Psychiatrist Pierre Canoui.

Following the example of Sweden in 1966, some 54 countries - including 22 of the EU's 28 member countries - have introduced similar laws banning corporal punishment in the home, according to French data.

If it passes, France would become the 55th country to ban corporal punishment on children.

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