This booklet is based on a recent internal desk review of Save the Children’s and partners’ work against physical and humiliating punishment of children, commissioned by Save the Children Sweden. It aims to present best practices, to show what methods have worked around the world, and to spread knowledge about results achieved and lessons learned when it comes to law reform and positive discipline. The booklet states first and foremost that children have the absolute right to be safe from violence as stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Violence does not have a disciplinary effect on children. It actually negatively impacts the child and the parent/child relationship.
The booklet discusses Sweden’s experience with legal reform. It was the first country to introduce a law against physical and humiliating punishment in 1979. The law prohibits parents from using violence or emotionally abusive treatment when bringing up a child. In the years preceding the 1979 ban, Sweden started a large commercial campaign to educate the public about the new bans. Sweden’s example demonstrates that changing laws along with advocacy strategies change public perception. In 1965, 53 percent of parents in Sweden said corporal punishment was necessary to discipline a child. In 2011, 14 percent of children reported being hit at some point in their lives, and 3 percent reported it as a frequent occurrence.
The booklet further discusses its successes in Latin America where nine of the 32 countries in the Latin American region have achieved full prohibition and three more countries currently have proposals in the process of filing or approval by Congress. The booklet also describes the best practices and lessons learned in Peru, Brazil, Romania, Philippines, South Africa.
Save the Children promotes change through four strategic pillars: 1) legal and policy change; 2) changing public attitudes; 3) behavior change; and 4) child participation. In 2006, a UN VAC-study concluded that violence against children occurs everywhere in the world and in all kinds of societies. The study firmly states that no violence against children is justifiable, and that all violence against children is preventable if all sectors of society work together.
This booklet emphasizes the importance of combining legal reforms with advocacy and information campaigns in order to combat violence against children. It states that by 2016, more than a quarter of UN member states have banned all violent punishment of children. Universal prohibition of violent punishment is now in sight. The booklet closes by stating that 2030 is a realistic target for achieving universal prohibition and making substantial progress towards its elimination.