Litigating the Child’s Right to a Life Free from Violence: Seeking the Prohibition of Parental Physical Punishment of Children Through the Courts
M. Freeman (ed.), Current Legal Issues Vol. 14 ‘Law and Childhood Studies’ (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) 530-553
33 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2012 Last revised: 24 Aug 2012
Date Written: January 8, 2011
Children’s rights advocates are increasingly seeking to bring about the prohibition of parental physical punishment (PPP) through the courts. However, efforts to challenge state measures permitting such treatment of children have met with mixed success before domestic and international judicial and quasi-judicial bodies.
This article focuses on a number of recent decisions by courts and international quasi-judicial bodies in relation to challenges to state permission of PPP. It analyses these decisions with the primary aim of identifying common or contrasting elements in terms of the reasoning employed by judges and other decision-makers in either upholding or striking down the legality of PPP. It argues that the approaches adopted to PPP by the bodies under consideration vary widely in terms of, amongst other things, judicial or quasi-judicial understandings and weighting of children’s rights, the balance struck between such rights and parental autonomy, and the role played by international child rights standards and comparative experiences in relation to the prohibition of PPP. This article considers how these variations operate in relation to determining whether or not a court will be prepared to find in favor of a prohibition of PPP.
Keywords: children's rights, physical punishment, corporal punishment, parents' rights, CRC, convention on the rights of the child, international law, comparative law, litigation strategy, courts, children and courts, child protection, Israel, European, Canada, Northern Ireland, Nepal
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