Committee on the Rights of the Child: UK

Session 072 (2016)

(3 June 2016, CRC/C/GBR/CO/5, Concluding observations on fifth report, paras. 38, 39 and 40)

"The Committee is concerned about: …

c) the use of physical restraint on children to maintain good order and discipline in Young Offenders’ Institutions and the use of pain-inducing techniques on children in institutional settings in England, Wales and Scotland, and the lack of a comprehensive review of the use of restraint in institutional settings in Northern Ireland;

d) The use of restraint and seclusion on children with psycho-social disabilities, including children with autism, in schools.

"With reference to the Committee’s general comment No. 13 (2011) on the right of the child to freedom from all forms of violence and Sustainable Development Goal 16, Target 16.2, the Committee urges the State party to:

a) prohibit the use of electrical discharge weapons, such as Taser guns, AEPs (Northern Ireland) and any other harmful devices on children and systematically collect and publish age disaggregated data on their use in order to monitor the implementation of such prohibition;

b) abolish all methods of restraint against children for disciplinary purposes in all institutional settings, both residential and non-residential, and ban the use of any technique designed to inflict pain on children;

c) ensure that restraint is used against children exclusively to prevent harm to the child or others and only as a last resort;

d) systematically and regularly collect and publish disaggregated data on the use of restraint and other restrictive interventions on children in order to monitor the appropriateness of discipline and behaviour management for children in all settings, including in education, custody, mental health, welfare and immigration settings.

"With reference to its general comment No. 8 and its previous recommendations, the Committee urges the State party, in all devolved administrations, Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, to:

a) prohibit as a matter of priority all corporal punishment in the family, including through the repeal of all legal defences, such as “reasonable chastisement”;

b) ensure that corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited in all schools and educational institutions and all other institutions and forms of alternative care;

c) strengthen its efforts to promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline and respect for children’s equal right to human dignity and physical integrity, with a view to eliminating the general acceptance of the use of corporal punishment in child-rearing."

Read more from Session 072 (2016)

Session 049 (2008)

(20 October 2008, CRC/C/GBR/CO/4, Concluding observations on third/fourth report, paras. 40, 41 and 42)

"The Committee, while noting amendments to legislation in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which restrict the application of the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’, is concerned that this defence has not been removed. The Committee welcomes the commitment of the National Assembly in Wales to prohibiting all corporal punishment in the home, but notes that under the terms of devolution it is not possible for the Assembly to enact the necessary legislation. The Committee is concerned at the failure of State party to explicitly prohibit all corporal punishment in the home and emphasizes its view that the existence of any defence in cases of corporal punishment of children does not comply with the principles and provisions of the Convention, since it would suggest that some forms of corporal punishment are acceptable.

"The Committee is further concerned that corporal punishment is lawful in the home, schools and alternative care settings in virtually all overseas territories and crown dependencies.

"The Committee, reiterating its previous recommendations (CRC/C/15/Add.188, para. 35), in the light of its general comment No. 8 on ‘the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment’, as well as noting similar recommendations made by the Human Rights Committee; the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, recommends that the State party:

a) prohibit as a matter of priority all corporal punishment in the family, including through the repeal of all legal defences, in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, and in all Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies;

b) ensure that corporal punishment is explicitly prohibited in schools and all other institutions and forms of alternative care throughout the United Kingdom and in the overseas territories and crown dependencies;

c) actively promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline and respect for children’s equal right to human dignity and physical integrity, with a view to raising public awareness of children’s right to protection from all corporal punishment and to decreasing public acceptance of its use in childrearing;

d) provide parental education and professional training in positive child-rearing.”"

Read more from Session 049 (2008)

Session 031 (2002)

(9 October 2002, CRC/C/15/Add.188, Concluding observations on second report, paras. 8, 9, 35, 36, 37 and 38)

"While noting the entry into force of the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law, the Committee is concerned that the provisions and principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – which are much broader than those contained in the European Convention – have not yet been incorporated into domestic law, nor is there any formal process to ensure that new legislation fully complies with the Convention. The Committee notes that the devolved administrations have introduced some legal reforms to ensure compatibility with the Convention such as ensuring that the education system in Scotland complies with article 12 and that corporal punishment in the day-care system in Wales is prohibited, but remains concerned that the State party does not ensure that its legislation is compatible with the Convention throughout its territory.

"The Committee encourages the State party to incorporate into domestic law the rights, principles and provisions of the Convention in order to ensure that all legislation complies with the Convention and that the provisions and principles of the Convention are widely applied in legal and administrative proceedings. The State party is also encouraged to provide training in the provisions of the Convention and to disseminate the Convention more widely.

"The Committee welcomes the abolition of corporal punishment in all schools in England, Wales and Scotland following its 1995 recommendations (ibid., para. 32) but is concerned that this abolition has not yet been extended to cover all private schools in Northern Ireland. It welcomes the adoption by the National Assembly for Wales of regulations prohibiting corporal punishment in all forms of day care, including childminding, but is very concerned that legislation prohibiting all corporal punishment in this context is not yet in place in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland. 

"In light of its previous recommendation (ibid., para. 31), the Committee deeply regrets that the State party persists in retaining the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement’ and has taken no significant action towards prohibiting all corporal punishment of children in the family. 

"The Committee is of the opinion that the Government’s proposals to limit rather than to remove the ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence do not comply with the principles and provisions of the Convention and the aforementioned recommendations, particularly since they constitute a serious violation of the dignity of the child (see similar observations of the of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, E/C.12/1/Add.79, para. 36). Moreover, they suggest that some forms of corporal punishment are acceptable, thereby undermining educational measures to promote positive and non-violent discipline.

"The Committee recommends that the State party:

a) with urgency adopt legislation throughout the State party to remove the ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence and prohibit all corporal punishment in the family and in any other contexts not covered by existing legislation;

b) promote positive, participatory and non-violent forms of discipline and respect for children’s equal right to human dignity and physical integrity, involving children and parents and all those who work with and for them, and carry out public education programmes on the negative consequences of corporal punishment."

Read more from Session 031 (2002)

Session 008 (1995)

(15 February 1995, CRC/C/15/Add.34, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 16, 31 and 32)

"The Committee is disturbed about the reports it has received on the physical and sexual abuse of children. In this connection, the Committee is worried about the national legal provisions dealing with reasonable chastisement within the family. The imprecise nature of the expression of reasonable chastisement as contained in these legal provisions may pave the way for it to be interpreted in a subjective and arbitrary manner. Thus, the Committee is concerned that legislative and other measures relating to the physical integrity of children do not appear to be compatible with the provisions and principles of the Convention, including those of its articles 3, 19 and 37. The Committee is equally concerned that privately funded and managed schools are still permitted to administer corporal punishment to children in attendance there which does not appear to be compatible with the provisions of the Convention, including those of its article 28, paragraph 2...."

"The Committee is also of the opinion that additional efforts are required to overcome the problem of violence in society. The Committee recommends that physical punishment of children in families be prohibited in the light of the provisions set out in articles 3 and 19 of the Convention. In connection with the child’s right to physical integrity, as recognized by the Convention, namely in its articles 19, 28, 29 and 37, and in the light of the best interests of the child, the Committee suggests that the State party consider the possibility of undertaking additional education campaigns. Such measures would help to change societal attitudes towards the use of physical punishment in the family and foster the acceptance of the legal prohibition of the physical punishment of children.

"… Legislative measures are recommended to prohibit the use of corporal punishment in privately funded and managed schools."

Read more from Session 008 (1995)

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