Australia is facing fresh calls to criminalise the smacking of children, with new research suggesting those subjected to childhood violence are nearly four times more likely to experience anxiety and depression.
A paper co-authored by 12 researchers for the Parenting and Family Research Alliance (PAFRA) said the corporal punishment of children was detrimental in all circumstances, while countries that had outlawed the practice had developed more effective ways of changing children’s behaviour.
Australian Catholic University Institute of Child Protection Studies director Darryl Higgins, one of the paper’s head researchers, told NCA NewsWire there was no firm evidence that supported the corporal punishment of children.
“All of the outcomes are negative,” Professor Higgins said.
He said countries including Wales, New Zealand and Sweden had outlawed the corporal punishment of children, and some had developed better means of changing a child’s behaviour.
Professor Higgins compared the campaign to remove the exemptions in the criminal code relating to the corporal punishment of children to the campaign to end smoking, where an evidence-led community education program led to a widespread change in behaviour.
“It’s about saying to people, actually you’ve been sold a con,” he said.
Sixty-three countries have outlawed the corporal punishment of children.
Professor Higgins said it was about bringing the treatment of children in line with other aspects of criminal law.
New calls to criminalise smacking and pinching children (By Hugo Timms, News.com.au)
Push for laws to make smacking children a criminal offence (The Australian)