Last updated: July 2015
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Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Law reform has been achieved. Corporal punishment is prohibited in all settings, including the home.

Legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is prohibited in the home. The achievement of complete prohibition has involved a number of law reforms. With regard to parents and others with parental authority, the right to physically punish children was limited to “moderate” physical punishment in the Act on the Limitation of the Use of Corporal Punishment 1891. This Act was repealed in 1972 and the right to physically punish children removed from the General Civil Penal Code, but no clear prohibition of corporal punishment was enacted.

In 1987, article 30 of the Parent and Child Act 1981 was amended to state: “The child must not be subjected to violence or in any other way be treated so as to harm or endanger his or her mental or physical health.” This was interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment of children. However, in 2005, while upholding the conviction of a man under the Penal Code for smacking his stepsons on their bare bottoms with his hand, the Supreme Court stated that lighter smacks would be permitted.[1] Following a review of the law, further amendments to legislation were passed in 2010 that confirm prohibition of all corporal punishment. Article 30(3) of the Parent and Child Act, as amended in 1987 and again in 2010, now states: “The child must not be subjected to violence or in any other way be treated so as to harm or endanger his or her mental or physical health. This shall also apply when violence is carried out in connection with upbringing of the child. Use of violence and frightening of annoying behaviour or other inconsiderate conduct towards the child is prohibited.” Violations of the prohibition are punishable by fine or imprisonment under the Penal Code provisions on assault and the causing of injury (arts. 228 to 232).

 

Alternative care settings

Corporal punishment is unlawful in alternative care settings under the Parent and Child Act 1981 as amended in 1987 and 2010 (see under “Home”).

 

Day care

Corporal punishment is unlawful in alternative care settings under the Parent and Child Act 1981 as amended in 1987 and 2010 (see under “Home”). The Kindergarten Act 2005 states that the Kindergarten shall be based “on fundamental values in the Christian and humanist heritage and tradition, such as respect for human dignity” (s1).

 

Schools

Corporal punishment has been unlawful in schools since 1936. It is explicitly prohibited in sections 2.9 and 3.7 of the Education Act 1998,[2] amended 2008: “Corporal punishment or other humiliating forms of treatment must not be used.”

 

Penal institutions

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions, but we have no details of prohibiting legislation.

 

Sentence for crime

Corporal punishment is unlawful as a sentence for crime. There is no provision for judicial corporal punishment in the General Civil Penal Code 1902.

 

Universal Periodic Review of Norway’s human rights record

Norway was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2009 (session 6). No recommendations were made concerning corporal punishment of children.

Examination in the second cycle took place in 2014 (session 19). No recommendations were made on corporal punishment of children.


Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations

Session 039 (2005)

(21 September 2005, CRC/C/15/Add.263, Concluding observations on third report, paras. 27 and 28)

"The Committee is concerned that children who are exposed to violence within the family do not always receive sufficient care and assistance.

"The Committee recommends that the State party continue to strengthen its efforts to provide adequate assistance to children who are exposed to violence within the family or whose parents are psychiatric patients and/or drug abusers, including through: ...

d) public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment and preventive programmes, including family development programmes promoting positive, non-violent forms of discipline."

Read more from Session 039 (2005)

Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations

HRC session 103 (2011)

(18 November 2011, CCPR/C/NOR/C, Concluding observations on sixth report, para. 3)

"The Committee welcomes the following legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party:

a) the amendments to the Children Act in 2010 to proscribe light forms of corporal punishment…."

Read more from HRC session 103 (2011)

Prevalence/attitudinal research for Norway in the last 10 years

A survey of 1,199 students aged 12-16 found that 82.4% thought “a child should never be corporally punished”; 8% thought “a child can be corporally punished using mild forms of punishment (e.g. smacking)”; 86% disagreed that “parents have a right to use mild forms of corporal punishment on their children (e.g. smacking)”, and 91.9% agreed that “children must be protected from all forms of violence”.

(UNICEF (2011), Nordic Study on Child Rights to Participate 2009-2010, Innolink Research)

In a study on gender equality, which involved 2,805 women and men, participants were asked if they had been physically punished or witnessed violence in their family as a child: 15% answered “yes” and 12% “partly”. The results showed a decline in experience of corporal punishment and witnessing violence in the home since the 1970s, with 16.3% of 17-24 year olds answering “yes” or “partly”, compared to 33.3% of 65-79 year olds. Physical punishment by parents was associated with gender-unequal decision-making in the home: 27% of respondents who said their father made the decisions at home reported physical punishment or witnessing violence at home, compared to 17% where the mother made the decisions and 10% of those whose parents made decisions on an equal basis. The study found that experiencing physical punishment or witnessing violence at home during childhood strongly reduced the chance of good quality of life as an adult: it was associated with increased feelings of aggression, anger, anxiety and depression, increased risk behaviour and increased involvement in traffic accidents. Those who had experienced physical punishment or witnessed violence in the home were more likely to be teased and bullied outside the home, be exposed to violent environments as an adult and be involved in violence and conflicts in their relationships and in the workplace.

(Holter et al (2009), Gender Equality and Quality of Life: A Norwegian Perspective, Nordic Gender Institute)

A 2007 study found that one quarter of 18 year olds had experienced at least “mild” violence from one of their parents, and 8% reported “serious” violence from one of them.

(Mossige, S. & Stefanson, K. (eds) (2007), Violence and abuse against children and young people: A self-reporting study among last year pupils in high school), Oslo: NOVA Rapport 20, cited in Durrant, J. & Smith, A. (2011), Global Pathways to Abolishing Physical Punishment: Realizing Children’s Rights, NY: Routledge)

Footnotes

[1] 30 November 2005, HR-2005-01865-A

[2] Act of 17 July 1998 No. 61 relating to Primary and Secondary Education and Training

Child population

1,136,800 (UNICEF, 2013)

National and regional advocacy for law reform

n/a

Forthcoming treaty body examinations and UPRs

Universal Periodic Review (UPR): 2019, session 33, deadline for briefing tbc

Human Rights Committee (ICCPR): Date of examination tbc, deadline for briefing (LOIPR) has passed (8 April 2016)

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW): 2017, session 68, deadline for LOI briefing has passed (23 January 2017)

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC): Date of examination tbc, deadline for LOI briefing 1 July 2017

This is an automatic translation service. Extracts from laws, treaty body recommendations and Universal Periodic Review outcomes are unofficial translations.