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30 years without smacking

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, October 9th, 2009 - 21 comments
Categories: child discipline, International - Tags:

Sweden has had a smacking ban for 30 years. How is that working out?

Stockholm When celebrating the 30th anniversary of the world’s first national ban on corporal punishment of children last month, Sweden’s social affairs minister, Göran Hägglund, claimed a dramatic success over something many Swedes now consider a scourge. “Colleagues from other countries often ask how we manage to raise children here without hitting them, but it works,” he said. “Many countries have followed our model but we still have a way to go.”

Sweden was the first of 24 countries to introduce a ban on smacking children in 1979. At the time traditionalists said it would lead to unruly kids, and other critics say the ban would be largely unenforceable. But according to official figures, just 10 percent of Swedish children are spanked or otherwise struck by their parents today. More than 90 percent of Swedish children were smacked prior to the ban.

The law places a legal obligation on teachers, day care workers, and health care professionals to report any suspicion of abuse. This has led to a surge in the number of reported cases, yet the proportion of serious cases of abuse has decreased. “When there is this moral standpoint that you should not use any violence against children, it influences the more severe kinds of violence,” says Children’s Ombudsman Fredrik Malmberg

New Zealand gets the kind of (poorly reported) mention we could really have done without:

It is held up as a model by child rights campaigners lobbying for wider adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, on which the Swedish law is based. The campaign experienced a setback last month when New Zealanders voted to repeal their anti-smacking law in a hotly contested referendum.

Depressingly, after 30 years, the opposition doesn’t seem to have gone away:

Polls show the ban has near universal support in Sweden. However there is a vocal international movement against the Swedish model. “In Sweden parents are afraid of their children. They don’t dare to correct them for fear of being reported,” says Ruby Harrold-Claesson, chairperson of the Nordic Committee for Human Rights, a Scandinavian-based lobby group fighting for the repeal of anti-smacking laws.

I guess we too can look forward to 30 years of Section 59 debate…

21 comments on “30 years without smacking”

  1. Out of bed 1

    I guess we too can look forward to 30 years of Section 59 debate

    And here I am commenting on your post helping confirm that…

  2. How did Sweeden avoid descending into chaos caused by out of control teenagers running riot through the streets and why isn’t its prison system paralysed by the incarceration of otherwise good parents wanting to only lightly chastise their children in a loving and careing way?

    • gitmo 2.1

      “In general, one can argue that in Sweden, the 1980s and 1990s have been characterised by increasing levels of concern for juvenile violence which has been perceived both within the media and among the public as undergoing a substantial increase. Discussions of the trends in violent crime of the kind presented above seldom reach the public and tend to be contrasted in the press with descriptions of tragic and particularly bloody cases of violence. ”

      From A trend report on criminal policy, the development of juvenile delinquency and the juvenile justice system by Sarnecki and Estrada at Stockholm University

      …….whether this has anything to do with the Swedish legislation who knows, we are however tow very different societies, in my opinion we have a larger undercurrent of violent culture as a society than the Nordic countries, I also despair of the influence of tv/music on kids ………. although parents having been disparing along those lines since Mozart released the Magic Flute

      • felix 2.1.1

        In general, one can argue that in Sweden, the 1980s and 1990s have been characterised by increasing levels of concern for juvenile violence which has been perceived both within the media and among the public as undergoing a substantial increase. Discussions of the trends in violent crime of the kind presented above seldom reach the public and tend to be contrasted in the press with descriptions of tragic and particularly bloody cases of violence.

        Could equally apply to NZ of course.

      • Byron 2.1.2

        “we have a larger undercurrent of violent culture as a society than the Nordic countries”

        I blame their Viking past…

  3. Herodotus 3

    So we worry about a UN report that mentions us. Is not NZ a sovereign country, that its own constituents take us on our adverture?
    Doesn’t the UN have enough REAL problems to deal with real abuse of children that we are all aware of?

  4. MartinJ 4

    Ruby H-C has been to NZ and her views strongly promoted by Family Fist and other proponents of beating children.

  5. Tammy Gordon 5

    I was in the supermarket the other day and there was a harrassed looking young mum with a two or three year old in the midst of a wind up to what looked to be a major tanty. People gave her sympathetic smiles and shrugs of encouragement. Two years ago the kid would either have got a smack (and we all know how effective that is for dealing with a toddlers tantrum) or the mum would have been told by other shoppers to give the kid a good smack (never a bad one, I note).

    I think that’s great progress. I despaired at the way Labour handled this bill but I wouldn’t want to overturn it. We may be making progress.

  6. The question in the headline “In 30 years without spanking, are Swedish children better behaved?” remains unanswered by the story. The social affairs minister thinks the fact few children are smacked in Sweden now is enough of a success, and political opponents from lobby groups declare contradictory answers to the question. Looks to me like the answer is “Whether children are smacked or not doesn’t make a whole shitload of difference.”

    Tammy Gordon: in what sense is it progress that we’re now expected to smile sympathetically and patiently endure someone’s toddler throwing a tantrum? Encouraging self-indulgent screaming and crying strikes me more as a retrograde step.

    • millsy 6.1

      As opposed to getting your rocks off by thrashing it?

      But PM, [deleted, please don’t go there — r0b]. As do almost every other New Zealand parent.

    • QoT 6.2

      What’s the alternative, PM? Should the parent take the child out of the supermarket or public area, thus teaching it “screaming gets you what you want” and thus leading to bigger, better, we-have-the-technology screaming fits next time?

      Please note all answers along the lines of “just don’t take small children out in public ever” may cause me to burst a lung from laughter at the sheer level of privilege.

  7. Its surprising how unwilling social conservatives are to let go. Its been many many years since abortion was legalized, yet still you get people so aggrieved they are writing letters to the editor and ringing talk back about it.

  8. millsy 8

    Ruby HC should really [enough with the personal stuff –r0b]

  9. Dianne Woodward 9

    I agree with PM John Key antismackers run a very ferocious campaign. A nonviolent positive parenting type minority fuelled by Barnardoes truly believe a stinging smack is violence,venomous voices screeched Child Basher at me during all my Prosmacking protests in Feilding plus after I appeared on TV3s Campbell Live 2nd April 2007 alongside Simon Barnett and Christine Rankin I got a real SURPRISE home phonecalls emails guaranteeing gutless caller anonymity how sad no name insults to me personally. Agreeing with me are a majority 90% of Kiwi Mums Dads and grandparents who know a sharp smack works instantly for safety or to correct bad behaviour and will not bruise or maime our precious babies. Thanks Larry Baldock for listening to 9 in 10 of us. PROTECT OR CORRECT ONLY REASON TO SMACK. Smack or a brat ask Bradford that?.

    [lprent: Do not paste the same comment across multiple posts. In conjunction with the stupid grammer, lack of paragraphs, obnoxious capitalisation, and moronic slogan-ridden content – it nearly got booted as spam troll content. Instead I decided to add a note to express my displeasure.

    The key to blog commenting is discussion. It is not simply shoving some stupid assertions down peoples throats. Spamming a blog site just shows you to be the type of obnoxious jerkoff that convinced me to move from opposing the repeal of S59a to a supporter. I came to the conclusion that a lot of the noisiest ‘smacking’ supporters were people I’d hate to raise children. Your attitude is a case in point. ]

    • Eclipse 9.1

      I’ll be more inclined to take notice of the pro-beating lobby when they’re capable of constructing choerent sentences.

    • Sam 9.2

      Great reply to Dianne. Couldn’t have said it better myself. This woman lacks any ability to debate logically and I agree it is quite possibly the most annoying posts I have ever had the misfortune to read.

      I have given up trying to debate with this woman, because after I read her recorded message type of reply – I loose the will to go on. It is evident she is just a hick from the country who fails to rationalise why she hits children.

  10. Dianne Woodward 10

    Sorry about my lack of paragraphs I never meant to upset you to the degree I have. Articles Garth George and Sue Reid wrote in the NZ Herald along with Mayor Michael Laws comments that since the passing of 2007 antismacking law 22 innocent little babies have died. Familyfirst are the voice for 9 out of 10 Kiwis who believe like me it is only a cruel uncontrolled violent monster that kills an innocent child it is never ever A LIGHT SMACK or TIME OUT but horrific anger gone mad that kills our darling children. A calm self controlled caregiver warns their will be a consequence should their childs unacceptable behaviour continue so an Adult grown up sets a fine example to their misbehaving child that the Child Has Rights to decide the consequence of their actions. I believe education at the Maternity Hospital when Mums are cuddling their newborn could help prevent rotten parenting once home but lets not persecute the majority of good parents who may occassionally use a light smack along with Time Out.

  11. Gordon 11

    Ironic that Sweden is lauded as a shining example to all.

    A country where a rape occurs every 2 hours, and where the rape of under 15 girls has increased 600% in a single generation. Where 82% of females are afraid to be out after dark.

    In fact, Sweden leads the world in the incidence of these attacks. They have twice as many as the “runner up”, the UK.

    So it appears that this social engineering is not only not working, it is extremely destructive.

    Will the perpetrators of these silly laws ever be held to account?
    Or will the sheep allow these political criminals to damage entire generations with impunity, all the while wringing their hands over what a terrible place the country has become?

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