Peru becomes 9th Latin American state to prohibit all corporal punishment of children

On 10 December 2015, the Peruvian Congress approved by a near unanimous vote (74 in favour, one abstention) the Law prohibiting the use of physical and other humiliating punishment against children and adolescents (“Ley que prohibe el uso del castigo físico y humillante contra los niños, niñas y adolescents”). This reform makes Peru the 9th Latin American state to achieve this fundamental reform for children, and means that now more than half (54%) of the Latin American child population lives in places where it is unlawful for them to be hit and hurt in the guise of “discipline”.

Globally, Peru is the 48th state to prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, including the home. It means that now a quarter of all UN member states have now achieved a ban, bringing the proportion of the global child population fully legally protected from violent punishment to 10% – a figure still remarkably low but nevertheless increasing.

Article 1 of the new law – which will be signed by the President in the coming days – clearly prohibits corporal punishment in all settings (unofficial and provisional translation):

1. Purpose of the Law

To prohibit the use of physical and humiliating punishment against children and adolescents.

This prohibition applies in all areas where children and adolescents are, including the home, school, community, workplaces and other related places.”

The law defines physical punishment in article 2 as “the use of force, in the exercise of powers of upbringing or educating [children or adolescents], intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort in order to correct, control or change the behaviour of the children and adolescents”. Humiliating punishment is defined as “any offensive, denigrating, devaluing, stigmatizing or mocking, in the exercise of the powers of upbringing or education, in order to correct, control or change the behaviour of children and adolescents”.

The law amends the Code of Children and Adolescents by inserting a new article 3-A confirming the right to good treatment. It also explicitly repeals article 74(d) of the Code on Children and Adolescents and article 423(3) of the Civil Code, both of which authorise parents and others to “moderately correct” children.

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