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Ireland tells UN there are 'severe sentences' for violence against children

Earlier this month there were calls for the government to ban corporal punishment in the home.

Image: child image via Shutterstock

THE DEPARTMENT FOR Children and Youth Affairs has told the UN in a report that although Ireland has no specific law banning corporal punishment in the home, there are severe sentences for those convicted of violence against children.

In a report on the rights of children in Ireland to a UN committee, it was written that there are “clear legal deterrents to the use of excessive physical discipline” in Ireland despite the fact that a specific ban on corporal punishment does not exist.

The report follows a complaint against Ireland by a child protection organisation earlier this month and calls from numerous children’s rights groups for a ban on smacking children.

Under current law, physical punishment of children by parents or legal caregivers, childminders and foster parents is allowed because of a ‘reasonable chastisement’ defence in common law.

The report said courts here have handed down “severe sentences” in cases where parents have been convicted of assault or of using excessive and unreasonable force against their children.

It is important to emphasize that considerable progress has been made in recent years in eliminating virtually all forms of violence against children in Ireland and in encouraging parents to use alternative non-violent forms of discipline in the family setting.

The committee referred to the recent ‘Growing up in Ireland’ study which revealed that almost 90 per cent of parents in Ireland reported to never or rarely using corporal punishment as a means of disciplining their children.

Today is the deadline for the government to respond to the complaint made to the Council of Europe earlier his month.

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