VIOLENCE: Two more States prohibit all corporal punishment of children

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Two countries – and one continent – have joined the ranks of those where children are legally protected from all forms of corporal punishment, as Tunisia and Poland have achieved law reform.

In July 2010, Tunisia became the first African state to prohibit all corporal punishment of children in all settings, including the home. Law No. 2010-40 of 26 July 2010, amends article 319 of the Penal Code to remove the clause which provided a legal defence for the use of corporal punishment in childrearing. Prior to the reform, article 319 of the Penal Code punished assault and violence which did not lead to serious or lasting consequences for the victim, but stated that "correction of a child by persons in authority over him is not punishable".

The new law explicitly repeals this clause, making it a criminal offence to assault a child even lightly. Publication of the law in the Official Gazette, in July 2010, was accompanied by a statement from the Constitutional Council that the new law is wholly compatible with the Constitution and its effect is to make the provisions against light assault in article 319 of the Penal Code equally applicable to "correction" of children.

On 1 August 2010, a new law came into force in Poland prohibiting all corporal punishment in childrearing. Article 2 of the Law of 6 May 2010 "On the Prevention of Family Violence" amends the Family Code (1964) by inserting a new article 96 which prohibits all corporal punishment in childrearing: "Persons exercising parental care, care or alternative care over a minor are forbidden to use corporal punishment, inflict psychological suffering and use any other forms of child humiliation" (Unofficial translation). This makes Poland the 22nd European State to achieve prohibition.

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