The Press 29 July 2009
For years smacking was seen as a parent’s right, vital in the discipline of a child. However, since the 1980s, a shift in attitude spreading from Scandinavia through Europe has led to legislation outlawing the spanking of children. In 1979, Sweden led the way, prohibiting all corporal punishment of children. It was followed by Finland and Norway, and the ban spread to Europe and Latin America. Now 24 countries, including New Zealand which in 2007 removed parental discipline as a defence against an assault charge have banned punishing children with a smack.
However, smacking remains legal to some degree in some of the world’s most influential countries. Australia allows corporal punishment in all states, but it must be “reasonable”. In New South Wales, parents or caregivers cannot apply force to a child’s head or neck, or apply harm that lasts more than a short period.