Ending the Physical Punishment of Children by Parents in the English-speaking World: The Impact of Language, Tradition and Law

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights
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  • 1 Nursing and Health Sciences Monash University, Australia

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Ending the physical punishment of children remains an enormous challenge. In societies which tolerate even limited physical punishment as discipline or control, it is a response to children that adults may unthinkingly adopt simply because they can. This paper primarily focuses on the language, traditions and law prevailing in English-speaking, common law countries – Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom – that have ratified the CRC but have not yet fully outlawed physical punishment. New Zealand, the first English-speaking country to ban physical punishment, and the United States which has neither ratified the CRC nor fully outlawed physical punishment, are also discussed. Separately, language, traditional attitudes and practices, and laws impacting children’s lives are considered, with a view to envisioning a status quo where adults and children are accorded equal respect as human beings and any degree of physical violence towards children is regarded as an aberration.

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