The Swedish Ban on Corporal Punishment of Children in a Multicultural Context – Conflicting Logics in the Social Services
43 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2018
Date Written: 2018
Sweden was the first country in the world to introduce a prohibition against parental physical punishment of children, in 1979. The aim of this ban was to change attitudes, not to criminalise parents. Since then, studies have shown remarkable changes, in terms of both parental attitudes and the decreasing use of physical punishment. However, violence against children is still a problem in Sweden today. There are challenges connected to becoming a more multicultural society where negative attitudes cannot be taken for granted and where a tough-on-crime rhetoric is increasingly on the political agenda. A central question is how the ban, with its educational and proactive aim, is interpreted and implemented in this context.
This question is analysed here from a socio-legal perspective, based on both legal sources and interviews with child protection representatives evaluating cases of violence against children. Results show that these professionals make use of two different and conflicting logics – one prospective logic, which is in line with socialwork ethics and the aim of the Social Services Act, and one retrospective, being influenced by the tough-on-crime political agenda. The conclusion is that there is a risk of the retrospective logic taking over – not least in a multicultural context, where trust and cooperation between the Social Services and families can be more difficult to achieve. Our study shows a need to attain a balance between the two logics without losing the strength of the message and aim of the 1979 ban.
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