Prohibition of all corporal punishment in the Netherlands (2007)
On 6 March 2007, a new law prohibiting all corporal punishment by parents and carers was passed in the Senate. The law amends the provisions in the Civil Code on parental authority so that article 1:247 now states (unofficial translation):
(1) Parental authority includes the duty and the right of the parent to care for and raise his or her minor child. (2) Caring for and raising one’s child includes the care and the responsibility for the emotional and physical wellbeing of the child and for his or her safety as well as for the promotion of the development of his or her personality. In the care and upbringing of the child the parents will not use emotional or physical violence or any other humiliating treatment.”
Article 1:248 of the Code applies article 1:247 to all other persons acting in loco parentis.
The Cabinet agreed to proceed with prohibition in February 2005, following a government-commissioned study on the experiences of abolition in other European countries.
A Department of Justice press release at the time that the “Bill to contribute to the prevention of emotional and physical abuse of children or any other humiliating treatment of children in care and upbringing” was introduced to the Cabinet stressed that the primary purpose of the new law is “to set a standard”.
A later press release from the Department, in September 2005, emphasised that the law would bring the Netherlands into compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and article 17 of the European Social Charter, and address the recommendations made to the Netherlands government by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the European Committee of Social Rights. It also explained the anticipated impact of the ban in relation to criminal law:
The proposal will not alter child abuse as a punishable offence under the Dutch Penal Code. The Government, however, does expect that the explicit standard in the Dutch Civil Code will have some sort of automatic effect in criminal law. As a result of the new standard, child abuse suspects will find it more difficult to justify their deeds before the court on the basis of parental disciplinary rules, which was until recently sometimes accepted as a justification. This meant that a parent, although it had been factually established that the child had been abused, could not be punished because the disciplining of the child and its upbringing were part of the parental responsibility. By introducing the Bill, the Government hopes to make it easier for care workers to discuss the use of violence as a parenting tool and to convince parents to accept help in bringing up a child.”
Following the passage of the law, a government Communication Plan to inform parents and the general public about the ban was being prepared.
- Global Initiative country report for the Netherlands