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rainbow ruler   :  Archive   :  2003   :  CH Domestic Jul 2003


Domestic CP - July 2003

Corpun file 11826


The Birmingham Post, UK, 10 July 2003

Swiss court lets parents smack child

Parents have only a limited right to smack their children, Switzerland's highest court has ruled.

The supreme court said an occasional smack is acceptable -- but anything more would constitute a crime.

The court was ruling on an appeal by the father of two children, aged nine and 11, who made a criminal complaint against his estranged wife' s new partner.

He claimed the man who had smacked and kicked the children on ten occasions, had also taken to pulling their ears.

Authorities in the western Vaud canton refused to consider the case.

They said the man, who had lived with the children's mother for three years, had the right to discipline the children. This decision means the case will be reopened.

In their ruling, the supreme court judges said parents and others acting in a parental capacity had the right to smack a child occasionally 'following inappropriate behaviour and with the aim of educating the child.'

But if the punishment is repeated or regular, that could not be justified.

In hitting the children ten times, the man went beyond what was acceptable.

Furthermore, the kicks represented 'degrading treatment' and could not be justified in terms of a duty to educate a child, the judges said.

A number of European countries, especially Nordic ones, have made it a criminal offence to smack children.

Other countries have tightened their rules, including outlawing corporal punishment by teachers. Switzerland in the past has considered introducing laws on parental behaviour but no such law has yet been passed. Corporal punishment is banned in Swiss schools.

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