It's time to ban the physical punishment of children

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


For too long, parents, and other adults in place of the parent, have assumed the right to resort to physical punishment to discipline or control children, and this parental privilege has, in many countries, been protected in law. Despite almost global ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and increasing progress towards legally prohibiting all forms of physical punishment of children in all settings, to date only 54 countries have taken this enlightened step. In the United Kingdom, recent moves toward physical punishment law reform in Scotland and Wales have occurred around the same time as community concerns about the painful physical restraint and solitary confinement of children placed in secure accommodation and juvenile detention centres. Surely, growing research evidence of the harmful effects of physical punishment in childhood, together with the overdue recognition of children’s human rights to physical integrity, dignity and respectful treatment, must now compel governments around the world to act responsibly. This article contends that it is time to unequivocally ban physical punishment, as it is unnecessary, may affect children’s optimal development, and is an affront to children’s human rights. We can no longer justify physical punishment in childhood as a reasonable means of discipline or control, and we can no longer afford to ignore its potential adverse impact on children, and the adults that they will become.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-58
Number of pages12
JournalSeen and Heard
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • physical abuse
  • children's rights
  • Child Maltreatment

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