Ireland Becomes 47th Country to Ban Corporal Punishment

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Nov. 11, 2015 - Ireland has become the latest country to ban corporal punishment in all settings, including in the home, after its parliament adopted legislation on Wednesday repealing the common law defence of “reasonable chastisement” of children.

The law makes Ireland the 20th European Union state to achieve prohibition of corporal punishment, the 29th Council of Europe member state, and the 47th state worldwide.

Some 80 states and territories worldwide have a law that provides a legal defence for the use of corporal punishment in childrearing derived from English law on “reasonable chastisement.”

Speaking in the Seanad, Ireland’s upper house of parliament, Senator Jillian van Turnhout said during the amendment debate that the reasonable punishment defence “still allows parents and some other carers to justify common assault on children.”

“With this amendment we have a way to unite and agree that all citizens are equal,” she said. “There must never be a defence for violence against children.”

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child defines corporal punishment as “any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however slight,” and it calls physical punishment “invariably degrading.”

Corporal punishment in schools is banned in 127 states but only 10 percent of children worldwide are protected by laws banning corporal punishment at home and in school.

Sweden was the world’s first country to ban corporal punishment in 1979.

A full list of countries that have enacted laws prohibiting violence against children in the home and school is below, courtesy of the Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment.

Most recent first:

2015 - BeninIreland
2014 - AndorraEstoniaNicaraguaSan MarinoArgentinaBoliviaBrazilMalta
2013 - Cabo VerdeHondurasTFYR Macedonia
2011 - South Sudan
2010 - AlbaniaCongo (Republic of)KenyaTunisiaPoland
2008 - LiechtensteinLuxembourgRepublic of MoldovaCosta Rica
2007 - TogoSpainVenezuelaUruguayPortugalNew ZealandNetherlands
2006 - Greece
2005 - Hungary
2004 - RomaniaUkraine
2003 - Iceland
2002 - Turkmenistan
2000 - GermanyIsraelBulgaria
1999 - Croatia
1998 - Latvia
1997 - Denmark
1994 - Cyprus
1989 - Austria
1987 - Norway
1983 - Finland
1979 - Sweden