Highest court outlaws child slapping

Violence against children is now prohibited as a means of punishment Keystone

The Swiss Federal Court has warned parents that corporal punishment is not an acceptable means of disciplining children.

This content was published on July 9, 2003 - 12:43

It ruled on Wednesday that slapping, kicking and ear tugging are punishable offences - if they are administered repeatedly or habitually.

The court made its announcement in a bid to clarify Swiss law, which does not specifically prohibit corporal punishment for children.

Current legislation states that individuals can be punished if they hit someone, regardless of whether a mark is left or not, but does not clarify at which point violence is unacceptable as a form of punishment delivered by adults to children.

Case overturned

The court ruling was prompted by a recent case in canton Vaud, where a father tried to take the partner of his estranged wife to court for hitting and kicking his children, aged nine and 11.

The court rejected the case, judging that a mother’s partner has the right to punish her children, even if he is not the biological father.

The Federal Court has now overturned that decision, deeming that the mother’s partner did commit a punishable act.

European examples

Other European countries, including Germany, have already put laws in place to prohibit all acts of violence against children.

Switzerland itself has considered banning corporal punishment of children in the past.

In 1996, a proposal was put to the government to ban hitting and other degrading forms of punishment. But it was decided that violence as a means of educating children should not be a punishable offence.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Federal Court made the ruling to clarify Swiss law, which does not specify at which point violence against children is not permissible.

The move comes after a court in canton Vaud threw out a case that sought to punish a man who repeatedly hit and kicked the children of his partner.

The Federal Court overturned that decision, and made clear that repeated corporal punishment of children was not acceptable.

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