Prohibition of all corporal punishment in Austria (1989)
The defence of “reasonable” punishment was removed from the law on assault in 1977 but this did not clearly prohibit all corporal punishment. On March 15 1989 the Austrian Parliament voted to amend its family law and the Youth Welfare Act to state explicitly that in bringing up children "using violence and inflicting physical or mental suffering is unlawful". The new law was passed unanimously and without controversy. The Austrian Minister for Environment, Youth and the Family stated: "The motive for this reform is our knowledge of the immeasurable harm children suffer when parents are not willing or able to avoid physical punishment as a way of bringing up their children. I hope other countries will follow us in ruling out physical punishment".
Statement from Paul Arzt, Children's Ombudsperson for Salzburg and a spokesperson for the Austrian Conference of Ombudspersons for Children and Youth:
The Austrian Ombudspersons for Children and Youth take it for granted that the national legislation concerning physical punishment in the family, in schools and generally is a very important tool to secure the healthy and respectful upbringing of all children in our country.
"We feel that - although there are still cases of physical punishment - the legal structure is a very important measure in awareness raising and has influenced the public debate on physical punishment and the "culture of education" to a very high degree.
"According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child it is important that all States Parties take their responsibility to change or adopt their national laws with the aim of making physical punishment illegal. Additionally all relevant measures outside the legal framework (e.g. counselling services, media campaigns etc.) to promote the issue of non-violent education should be supported to the highest possible extent.
"The aim of the law is to change attitudes and reduce physical punishment and it certainly has not resulted in any increase in prosecution of parents for hitting their children, or increase in children being taken into state care".
Paul Arzt, Kinder und Jugendanwaltschaft Salzburg, Strubergasse 4, A-5020 Salzburg, Austria 00 43 662 430 550; fax 00 43 662 430590, www.salzburg.com/kija
Article 146a of the General Civil Code 1989 states:
The minor child must follow the parents’ orders. In their orders and in the implementation thereof, parents must consider the age, development and personality of the child; the use of force and infliction of physical or psychological suffering are not permitted.”
The Federal Constitutional Act on the Rights of Children 2011 confirms the prohibition in article 5(1):
Every child has the right to non-violent upbringing. Corporal punishment, the infliction of mental suffering, sexual abuse and other abuses are prohibited….”
- Global Initiative country report for Austria
- Federal Constitutional Act on the Rights of the Child (English, German)