Current opportunities for law reform
Opportunities for promoting and enacting prohibition of corporal punishment occur whenever laws relating to children are reviewed, revised and/or freshly drafted, including legislation relevant to the family, education, care and juvenile justice. The revision and enactment of criminal and civil codes also provides key opportunities for prohibiting corporal punishment. Opportunities such as these exist in the majority of states which have not yet prohibited all corporal punishment.
Where there are these opportunities, it is vital to propose that prohibition – including the repeal of all legal defences/authorisations for the use of corporal punishment – is included in the laws and retained as the legislation passes through parliament. Every opportunity to prohibit represents a chance to fulfil children’s right to legal protection, stopping children from being hit and hurt by their parents and others.
But the existence of these opportunities is not essential in advocating for prohibition. Where there appear to be no current processes of law reform within which to promote prohibition, efforts should be made to draft proposals for prohibition which can be used to initiate the process of law reform and/or to bring into play if opportunities arise.
Moving swiftly from discussion to action is key. National attention to corporal punishment (e.g. through government consultations, new research, media reports, etc) can be used to promote prohibition: proposals for law reform must be made and followed through. Given children’s clear and immediate human right to protection, it is not necessary to consult on the issue, nor is it justifiable to wait for public attitudes to change before reforming the law.