Ireland's smacking law criticised

Wednesday 27th May 2015 - Deborah Condon , View Article Here

The controversial issue of parents smacking their children is being highlighted again after the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR) found that Ireland has violated a European charter by not banning all corporal punishment.

Earlier this week, the ISPCC called on the Government to introduce a comprehensive ban on corporal punishment, which includes parents smacking their children.

The ruling comes after a formal complaint about Ireland was made in 2013 by the Association for the Protection of All Children (APPROACH), a UK-based organisation.

Currently in Ireland, parents who smack their children can use the defence of ‘reasonable chastisement'.

However, there appears to be a lot of confusion on this issue. A survey commissioned by the ISPCC and the Children's Rights Alliance last year, revealed that two in three parents already believed that smacking children was banned.

According to ISPCC chief executive, Grainia Long, a ban on corporal punishment ‘is a matter of legal obligation arising from children's rights to equal protection under international law'.

The aim of the ECSR is to judge whether member states ‘are in conformity in law and in practice with the provisions of the European Social Charter'. This charter is a Council Of Europe treaty that protects human rights. These rights concern all individuals in their daily lives - from health and education to housing and employment.

In its ruling, the ECSR found that the corporal punishment of children 'is not prohibited in a sufficiently clear, binding and precise manner under Irish legislation or case law'. It said that violence against children, including corporal punishment, 'is a major abuse of their human rights, and equal protection under the law must be guaranteed to them'.

"The Council of Europe has been working to see corporal punishment of children outlawed in each of its 47 member countries, and positive parenting programmes set up by governments to encourage parents to make the family violence-free," it added.

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