France outlaws all child smacking

France has become the 56th country worldwide to outlaw smacking and other similar forms of violence towards children, after a unanimous parliament vote.

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The bill outlaws all “educational, ordinary violence” - primarily that committed by parents towards their children - and has been dubbed the “anti-smacking law (anti-fessée)”. It now forms part of legal code le Code Civil, and reads: “parental authority may be exerted without physical or psychological violence”.

The phrase will now be included in articles read at local Mairies during marriage ceremonies, and will also appear on the first page of a child’s national health records.

Adrien Taquet, secretary of State in charge of child protection, said: “Beating, slapping, spanking - all are scars that the child will carry of their life. Nothing is more wrong than the idea that ‘ordinary educational violence’ will ‘build character’.”

France has now become the 56th country worldwide to introduce such a law, a form of which is already in place in many other European nations. Sweden was the first to outlaw smacking, in 1979.

The vote comes ahead of a report on the state of childhood educational violence in France, which is also expected to include recommendations for parents. It will be handed to parliament before September 1 2019.

Smacking appears to be common in France. A survey by public childhood association la Fondation Pour L’Enfance found that 85% of French parents had previously used some form of smacking, and more than 50% said they had hit their child in some way before the child’s second birthday.

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