France moves towards a full ban on smacking kids

France has moved closer to an explicit ban on smacking after MPs voted to prohibit parents from using physical punishments against their children.

France moves towards a full ban on smacking kids
Photo: AFP

The ban was proposed by a group of ecologist and socialist MPs as an amendment to the Equality and Citizenship bill, which is currently being examined by the National Assembly.

It changes the definition of parental authority in the Civil Code to exclude ‘all cruel, degrading or humiliating treatment, including any recourse to corporal violence’. The ban will be ratified on Wednesday if the bill is voted in.

Although couched in stringent language, the ban will have no judicial weight. The rule is “exclusively civil and will bring no penal sanctions against parents”, specified the authors of the amendment.  

But it “sets out a clear principle, which should be repeated to fathers and mothers and influence their future behaviour”.  

The Family Minister Laurence Rossignal applauded the vote, calling it ‘an indispensable tool in the prevention of child abuse’.

In recent years France has come under fire from the Council of Europe and the UN for its stance on violence against children.

In 2015, the Council of Europe argued that its laws on the matter were not “sufficiently clear, binding and precise”. In February the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged France “to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all settings”.

French law currently bans violence against children in school and disciplinary establishments, but allows parents the “right to discipline” their children.

by Imogen Wallace

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