France to finally ban smacking children – but parents won’t be punished

France's parliament is expected to adopt a ban on parents smacking their children although those that do are unlikely to be punished.

France to finally ban smacking children - but parents won't be punished
Smacking will be outlawed. Photo monkeybusiness/Depositphotos

The practice of smacking children, referred to in France as la fessée is condemned by the UN but still enjoys widespread support in the country

The ban, to be put to a final vote in the Senate on Tuesday, would make France the 55th state to prohibit corporal punishment of children.

It will be written into the Civil Code and read out to couples when they exchange their marital vows. 


The newly-weds will be told that “parental authority is exercised without physical or psychological violence”. 

The measure, which was adopted by MPs in November, is expected to easily pass the Senate despite some lawmakers on the right railing against what they see as “interference” in family life.

Violence towards children is already banned under France's penal code, but a 19th-century addendum to the Civil Code's definition of parental authority made allowances for parents when “disciplining” their children.

According to France's Childhood Foundation, 85 percent of French parents admit to smacking their children.

Attempts by previous governments to ban the practise have run afoul of conservatives, but resistance has softened in recent years.

The new law does not contain a specific punishment for parents who break the rules.

Its main goal is to encourage society to change its ways, Maud Petit, the MP who sponsored the measure, said.

The legislation will bring France in line with international treaties on the rights of children.

In 2015, the Council of Europe, which makes recommendations on rights, singled out France for failing to follow the example of other European countries by banning smacking.

A year later, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged France to “explicitly prohibit” all forms of corporal punishment of children. 

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Are these the best places in and around Paris to bring up children?

Where are the best places in and around Paris to have a family? A new ranking claims to have come up with the answers, but where would you ideally like to raise your kids?

Are these the best places in and around Paris to bring up children?
Photo: AFP

Parents already living in or moving to the French capital often face the dilemma of whether to live in Paris or move to the one of the suburban towns in the nearby region.

For some parents Paris – basically inside the peripherique ring road – appeals because of the culture, the bars and the restaurant scene, not to mention the schools, parks and all the activities for children.

But others dream of having the garden, bigger apartment, car parking space, empty parks, and lower house or rent prices that the suburbs can offer them. Not to mention the chance of a place in a creche which can be hard to come by in Paris.

The struggle however is finding the right suburb or town or even arrondissement in Paris which fits the specific needs or desires of the parents.

Le Parisien newspaper has studied the positives and negatives of 385 towns in Paris and the surrounding region of Île-de-France and their results might help ease the burden of fretting parents wondering where it is best to live.

The newspaper based its ranking on statistics available on the 385 towns with a population of over 5,000 and built a quality of life index to take into account factors like the environment, schools, sports and entertainment, real estate, health, transport and security.

At number one comes the town of Versailles, renowned worldwide for its Château de Versailles and its gardens. Versailles is 22 km to the south west of Paris and is on the RER commuter train network.

What also might appeal to parents is the property prices in Versailles compared to Paris.

According to Le Parisien, real estate goes for an average of €7,200 per square meter, well below the Paris average of €9,000 a square meter. It’s also reportedly easy to find a doctor there, it's relatively safe, and there are good shopping options.

Even Versailles Town Hall says it has placed family life and education at the heart of its project.

“In order to allow families and parents to reconcile work and family life, the town is developing its hospitality offering and offers many services and leisure activities, from kindergarten to graduate school,” reads the Town Hall's website.

In second place was ranked Boulogne-Billancourt, just on the south-western edge of Paris.

Town Hall staff in Boulogne-Billancourt were clearly happy with the result.

“This award represents the culmination of the work done by the municipality for families. The City devotes more than 25 percent of its operating budget to education and youth,” read a message on the website.

According to Le Parisien, Boulogne-Billancourt has 22 municipal structures dedicated to early childhood, making it a lot easier for parents to find a spot for their kids without much of a delay.

“There are schools from early childhood to high school, as well as recreational and sports facilities such as a swimming pool, and an ice rink,” Coralie, 38, a Boulogne-Billancourt resident told Le Parisien.

In third place came Neuilly-sur-Seine, just on the north east edge of Paris that was recently ranked as the richest town in France.

In fourth came Maisons-Alfort, located around 10 km south east of Paris, followed by the 15th arrondissement in Paris, which is known as a family neighbourhood and is a lot quieter than other districts in the capital.

Next in the ranking was the chic 16th arrondissement on the western edge of the city, then the town of Saint-Cloud, which stands next to Boulogne-Billancourt on the south-western edge of Paris, the 4th arrondissement in Paris followed by the 7th arrondissement and then rounding off the top 10 was Vincennes on the south eastern edge of the city which stands next to the huge Bois de Vincennes park.

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Other areas that appeared in the the 20 were Saint-Germain-en-Laye to the west of Paris which has proved popular among British families.

The 5th and 6th arrondissements also made the top 20 as did Nogent-sur-Marne, Charenton-le-Pont, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Le Vésinet, Viroflay and Créteil.

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