Photo:Mats Lignell/Save the Children
Physical and humiliating punishment is the most common form of violence against children. However, it remains lawful and widely socially accepted in all but 32 states (June, 2012). This means that more almost 95 per cent of children in the world do not have the same protection against this form of violence as adults.
Children continue to be physically punished and deliberately humiliated in almost all societies and across all cultures as this practice remains far too common at home, in schools and institutions:
- Physical and humiliating punishment in schools has been abolished in over 100 states but is still considered and practiced to discipline children in schools in most countries.
- Only 1 out of 10 children live in a country where physical and humiliating punishments are forbidden in all alternative care settings.
- It is still lawful to sentence children to caning, whipping or flogging in the penal systems of 145 states all over the world.
This form of violence might be a deliberate act of punishment or just the impulsive reaction of an irritated adult. Regardless of which, it is still a breach of the universal principle that all human beings should be treated with respect for their human dignity and their right to physical integrity.
One main reason for physical punishment is that caregivers or teachers see no other way of correcting the child’s behavior and instill discipline.
However, it has been proven that physical and humiliating punishment is not only a violation of children’s human rights but is also ineffective as a means of discipline. In addition, a commitment to ending all forms of physical and humiliating punishment is a priority because:
- It is a violation of children’s right to protection, but can also
threaten children’s rights to education, development, health and
- It can cause serious physical and psychological harm to the
- It teaches the child that violence is an acceptable and
appropriate strategy for resolving conflict or getting people to do
what you want.
- It may give the impression that some forms or levels of violence
against children are legitimate which makes protection of children
difficult in general.
- It encourages children to be aggressive, creates anger and
resentment and damages the parent-child relationship.