Jersey prohibits all corporal punishment of children

On 10 December 2019, the States Assembly of Jersey adopted the Children and Education (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 2019 which explicitly prohibits corporal punishment of children in all settings. Jersey is a British Crown Dependency which is internally self-governing and not part of the United Kingdom (UK) itself.

Article 2 of the Children and Education (Amendment) (Jersey) Law 2019 repealed article 35(5) of the Children (Jersey) Law 2002 which previously recognised the right of “any parent, teacher or other person having the lawful control or charge of a child to administer punishment to the child”. The 2019 Law also amended article 79 of the Children (Jersey) Law 2002 to state:

Abolition of defence of reasonable corporal punishment

(1) Any defence of reasonable corporal punishment of a child under customary law is abolished.  

(2) Accordingly, corporal punishment of a child cannot be justified in any civil or criminal proceedings on the grounds that it constituted, for the purposes of any rule of customary law –

(a) reasonable punishment; or

(b) acceptable conduct.

(3) In this Article, “corporal punishment” means, in relation to a child, administering a physical act on the person of a child for the purpose of punishing that child (whether or not there are other reasons for administering the act) which would constitute assault.”

Before this reform, corporal punishment was still lawful in the home, in some alternative and day care settings, and in schools. In January 2019, the States Assembly had adopted by an overwhelming majority a proposition (Proposition No. 144/2018) which called for the defence of “reasonable punishment” to be repealed. A proposition can be brought forward by individual members – in this case deputy Mary Le Hegarat – to call on the Government of Jersey to introduce Bills on the issue. At the time, the Minister for Children and Housing Sam Mézec had expressed his support for the proposition, stating that:

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (“UN Committee”) have made it clear that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (“UNCRC”) requires the prohibition in law, and elimination in practice, of all corporal punishment in all settings, including the home. (…) If this Assembly chooses not to adopt P.144/2018, Jersey will continue to fall short of its international obligations in this regard.”

The Children and Education (Amendment) (Jersey) Bill was then introduced in October 2019 by the Minister. In the report accompanying the Bill the Government of Jersey pledged £7,000 to conduct a public awareness campaign before the implementation of the ban, which is expected to come into force in April 2020.

The Global Initiative warmly welcomes this reform which provides all children in Jersey with equal protection from assault. Jersey becomes the 16th territory worldwide – and the second British territory – to prohibit all corporal punishment of children, in accordance with its obligation to do so under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

There has been ground-breaking progress across the UK nations this year – Scotland enacted full prohibition in October and a similar Bill is progressing through the Welsh National Assembly. We call on the rest of the UK and on all states and territories worldwide to adopt similar legislation to prohibit all corporal punishment of children as a matter of urgency.


Further information