Corporal punishment is the most widespread form of violence against children. It is any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort. It is a violation of children‘s rights to respect for human dignity and physical integrity.

The Council of Europe calls for a legal prohibition of corporal punishment of children in law and in practice. Corporal punishment conveys the wrong message to children and can cause serious physical and psychological harm to a child. Corporal punishment if directed at an adult would constitute criminal assault. One of the most basic human rights principles is the right to live free from the threat of violence. Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) guarantees this right to every child and obliges States Parties to take appropriate measures to protect the child from all forms of violence.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the monitoring body of the UNCRC, has emphasised that effective protection of human rights require the elimination of all corporal punishment and all cruel or degrading treatment of children.

The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, which brings together representatives from all 47 member states’ parliaments, has adopted a Recommendation calling for Europe to become a “corporal punishment-free zone”. The social and legal acceptance of corporal punishment of children must come to an end. The campaign „Raise your hand against smacking“ provides member states with awareness raising material to promote the abolition of corporal punishment and encourage positive, non-violent parenting.

Member States who have abolished corporal punishment are encouraged to share with the Council of Europe good practices they have developed to promote non-violent parenting. This can be audio-visual and campaign materials, publications, training materials and other useful tools.