Small children target of parental beatings

Swiss parents continue to use violence against their children swissinfo C Helmle

The use of corporal punishment by parents in Switzerland is in decline but smaller children are more often subjected to beatings than older ones.

This content was published on January 24, 2005

A study shows that more than 35,000 young children are beaten by their parents.

Experts from Fribourg University said the younger the children, the more often they were subject to corporal punishment.

According to the study, published in Monday’s edition of the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper, an estimated 13,000 children under the age of 30 months have been slapped, nearly 18,000 have been pulled by the hair and about 1,700 hit with objects.

An overwhelming majority of parents said the main reason for corporal punishment was disobedience. Many also cited screaming, bad table manners and rudeness.

The study also found that awareness had grown over the past decade that beating was an inadequate means of disciplining children.

It added that children who were beaten by their parents were more prone to use the same methods when they in turn had children.

The authors said adults today more often resorted to forbidding their children certain things and denying them affection.

Vulnerable children

“Mothers tend to react with a withdrawal of affection, while fathers are more inclined to use violence and bans,” the study found.

The survey, commissioned by the Federal Social Insurance Office, was based on interviews with 1,240 parents with children under the age of 16.

A similar study was carried out in 1990.

The authors of the survey said corporal punishment harmed the physical and mental health of the child, adding that younger children were particularly vulnerable.

They said small children couldn’t be expected to be obedient all the time.

Franz Ziegler of the Swiss Association for the Protection of Children said he was shocked by the findings of the study.

He called for more preventive efforts not only with parents, but also with children.

"Children have to be taught in school to resolve conflicts through peaceful means and without using violence," he told swissinfo.

In 2003 the Federal Court ruled that corporal punishment, if administered repeatedly, was not an acceptable means of disciplining children.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

7.5% of respondents admitted to beating their children at least once in the week prior to the survey - down from 14.5% in 1990.
The number of parents who beat their children once over a period of six months dropped from 25.7% to 21.9%.
The number of adults who said they never beat their children rose from 13.2% to 26.4%.

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