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Legislative measures to prohibit corporal punishment

This area of the website is designed to accompany the Global Initiative handbook Prohibiting corporal punishment of children: A guide to legal reform and other measures (December 2007), available here [LINK] as a pdf. These resources are also available as a separate pdf file here. We welcome further information about other legal and other resources to support prohibition: please email

Prohibition in the home, including removal of legal defences ("reasonable punishment", etc)


Draft legislation under discussion, introduced to Parliament in October 2007, repeals section 43 of the Criminal Code, which provides for the use of “reasonable” force “by way of correction”. The draft Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children) (Bill S-209) states:



The Custody and Care Act was amended in 1985 to state:

However, further explicit prohibition was found to be necessary and in 1997, the Parental Custody and Care Act (1995) was amended to state:



The Criminal Code was amended in 1969 to remove parents’ defence against prosecution for petty assault if committed during the exercise of their lawful “right” to chastise their child. In 1984 the Child Custody and Rights of Access Act (1983) came into force, prohibiting corporal punishment (article 1.3):

Together with the law against physical punishment, the child’s rights to self-determination and to be heard were extended.



Corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited in the home in article 1:247 of the Civil Code, on parental authority, which was amended in 2007 to state (unofficial translation):

Article 1:248 applies article 1:247 to other persons acting in loco parentis.


New Zealand

The legal defence for the use of reasonable force “by way of correction” was removed from the 1961 Crimes Act in 2007 by the Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act, which substitutes a new provision on parental authority. The new law allows the use of force for protection but explicitly prohibits its use for the purposes of correction. It also reaffirms standard police discretion, as for assault cases between adults, as to the decision to prosecute in light of the likely public interest in doing so. The new Section 59 states:

Police guidelines on how to enforce the prohibition were also published (available at, confirming that parents who regularly smack their children despite warnings face prosecution; parents found to have used “minor, trivial or inconsequential” force and not charged will have their details recorded by police family violence co-ordinators. A provision in section 139A of the 1989 Education Act which recognised parents’ right to use force by way of correction was repealed.



Corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited in article 28 of the Law on Protection and Promotion of the Rights of the Child, (2004, in force 2005):

Article 90 states of the same law states:



The legal defence for the use of corporal punishment by parents was removed from criminal law in 1957. In 1966, a provision allowing “reprimands” was removed from the Parenthood and Guardianship Code. The Code was amended in 1979 to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment (article 6.1):



The law concerning the responsibilities of parents towards their children – the Family Code (2003, in force 2004) – prohibits corporal punishment and any other humiliating punishment or treatment (article 150). Article 150(7) states:

The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (2001, in force 2002) also outlaws violence against children in the home. It defines domestic violence as:

The same law defines physical domestic violence as:


United Kingdom

The following extract from a clause debated (but not accepted) in the UK Parliament illustrates how the law must make absolutely clear that the laws on assault and battery which apply to adults should apply equally to children. It also provides an example of provisions which may be necessary for establishing when reasonable use of force may be necessary.

Further details about countries with full prohibition, including in the home, are available here.


Corporal punishment is prohibited by repeal of the provisions in the Civil Code and the Children and Adolescents Code (2004) which had recognised the right of parents and others to administer “moderate/adequate correction”, and by a clear statement that corporal punishment is prohibited. The law, enacted in 2007, inserts the following article into the Children and Adolescents Code:



In 2007, article 32-A (“the right to good treatment”) was inserted into the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents which explicitly prohibits all corporal punishment and puts obligations on parents, other adults and the State to ensure implementation of the new law. Article 32-A states:

Article 358 of the Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents is amended to re-emphasise that the duties and rights of parents in childrearing exclude the use of corporal punishment:


Click here for further details about countries with full prohibition, including in the home.