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Australian parents would face criminal consequences for smacking their children if the country adopted a United Nations push to outlaw corporal punishment. Source: Perth Now.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture has directed Australia to put an outright ban on corporal punishment, extending from the school gate into the home.

In its recent concluding observations, the committee noted it was concerned corporal punishment remains lawful under the label of so-called “reasonable chastisement” in the home in Australia, as well as in day care and alternative care settings, public and private schools and detention centres in some states and territories.

“The committee urges the state party (Australia) to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in law in all settings,” it said.

“It should also strengthen and expand awareness-raising and education campaigns to promote positive and alternative forms of discipline”.

The UN’s push for a ban on corporal punishment comes after it accepted a submission underpinned by research by Daryl Higgins, director of Australian Catholic University’s Institute of Child Protection Studies.

As part of his work with the Australian Child Maltreatment Study, Professor Higgins found about 60 per cent of young adults aged between 16 and 24 experienced corporal punishment four or more times during their childhood.

It doubled their risk of mental health problems – namely, anxiety and depression, he said.

The country is “absolutely way behind” others when it comes to banning corporal punishment, with 63 international jurisdictions having already outlawed it, he said.

Australian Catholic University dean of law Professor Patrick Keyzer prepared the submission to the UN and has challenged the Albanese Government to act on the committee’s direction.


UN pushes for Australian smacking ban (By Cassandra Morgan, AAP via PerthNow)