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No hitting of children!

We resolutely reject any physical violence against children. Corporal punishment reveals a fundamental hostility to children, it is inhumane and humiliating, and absolutely incompatible with the ideas of democracy and human rights, it disregards human dignity and violates the basic right to security of person. Any use of violence, from a "slight slap" to a "real hard beating" must be banned by law. Actions, that among adults would be considered assault, cannot be legitimate against children – and certainly not "sometimes necessary". Violence never can be a means for the solution of conflicts. It destroys human relationships and hinders or wipes out confidence. In the short term, violence may result in obedience, in the long term it promotes the acceptance of violence. Those who sow physical punishment must not be surprised when they reap violent crimes.

We must abandon once and for all the pre-democratic requirement that children must be made to be obedient. Children are not their parents’ property, are not objects that the parents arbitrarily have at their disposal. It is time to accept children as the autonomous individuals they are, to recognize their inalienable human dignity and their equally inalienable human rights.

Violence – threatened and practised alike – generates an atmosphere of fear that indisputably has negative consequences for the development of a child. Physical violence against children that is used deliberately – "for educational reasons" – entails psychological humiliation. Children sense that they are not taken seriously and that they are at the mercy of a superior power. This powerlessness destroys their self-confidence or prevents it ever developing. There is no such thing as a "harmless slap".

Although a prohibition of spanking alone will not have as consequence that no child is ever hit again and even though some adults will switch from physical to more subtle emotional violence, it is a prerequisite for a peaceful world. Other forms of oppression and domination must also be renounced as a matter of principle. The aim is a non-hierarchical relationship with children.

Of course a prohibition of spanking will not in itself bring about a child-friendly society – it is only the first step. As long as any state – often even with support of the youth ministry – tolerates parents abusing their physical superiority to force children to submit, one cannot even speak of it as a constitutional state with liberal democratic principles.

Besides, hitting causes pain.

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