Regional Office Director Participates in Council of Europe Conference on Corporal Punishment-Free Europe
Zagreb, 16 June 2008 (UNICEF) - “Raise your hands against smacking” is a key message of the Europe-wide initiative for full prohibition of corporal punishment of children, promotion of positive parenting and raising awareness of children’s rights. The initiative, hosted by the Croatian Government was launched by the Council of Europe in a colourful and interactive ceremony at the Zagreb Puppet Theatre. High-level representatives of governments, Council of Europe, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF, parliamentarians, local authorities, ombudspersons, young people, NGOs and children’s networks and families with children urged for European zone free of corporal punishment.
So far, only one third of Europe’s children are fully protected from corporal punishment by legislation. In 1979 Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce an explicit prohibition of all corporal punishment and humiliating treatment of children. By the time of this launch, 18 out of 47 Council of Europe member states have legally banned corporal punishment of children at home, at school, in care institutions or in places of detention. Most European societies still tolerate or even encourage corporal punishment as a means of disciplining children.
Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, said the campaign was designed to show children that they had the right to fight for their rights because children subjected to violence were afraid to talk about it for fear of new punishment.
“Today only 2.3 per cent of world’s children are protected by the law against corporal punishment” said UNICEF Regional Director for CEE/CIS Maria Calivis. “We need to do more and we need to invite children to participate in the reforms.”
This initiative is also a concrete follow-up to the recommendations from the UN Study on Violence against Children, which has set 2009 as the target date for achieving universal abolition of corporal punishment. It is based on three pillars – legal reform, positive parenting policies and awareness raising, so that abolition of corporal punishment is achieved in both law and practice.
An European survey has shown that depending on the country, 47-84% of parents use corporal punishment and that 70-99% consider that kind of punishment acceptable. Between 53% and 93% of children covered by the survey said that they had been subjected to corporal punishment.
UNICEF in the region is supporting initiatives for abolishing corporal punishment and also working on promotion of positive parenting.
Croatia introduced prohibition of corporal punishment in 1999. However, corporal punishment is still justifiable in the eyes of 27% of citizens who feel that smacking should be a part of good upbringing.
Since the launch of the national campaign for positive parenting in 2006, UNICEF in Croatia has raised more than 1 million dollars from citizens and companies within the country for prevention programmes through which more than 100,000 families have been reached with the education material on positive parenting practices.
For all information please contact
UNICEF Zagreb, Gorana Dojcinovic, Communication Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org