End physical punishment of children - protect Australian children

End physical punishment of children - protect Australian children

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In 1979, Sweden was the first country in the world to prohibit all physical punishment of children, including in the home. As of September 2022, 63 countries, including New Zealand, have done the same. Lawmakers in these countries listened to the experts in the field. They also listened to over 50 years of research that demonstrates the negative outcomes associated with the physical or corporal punishment of children.

It’s time Australia listened too! We need to prioritize the safety of children. This petition is calling on you to help a campaign to end physical punishment of children.

Raising a child can be incredibly challenging at times. Many parents and caregivers are not aware that you can raise children without punishing them. Parents should feel comfortable to make use of the many free positive parenting resources available worldwide that benefit children and their parents or caregivers. It’s important to  help health professionals encourage parents and caregivers to seek parenting support or provide information.   


Babies, toddlers, and children are only capable of behaving according to their developmental level. For example, toddlers and young children are naturally curious but have not yet developed impulse control. Therefore, smacking them because they touched something valuable to the caregiver or because they ran onto the street is simply unfair, unnecessary, and ineffective in the long term. The human brain is not fully developed until at least the mid-20s. Infants and children deserve our patience, unconditional love, healthy boundaries, and respect as they learn about the world. 

 

New findings from the Australian Child Maltreatment Study have found that children who are smacked repeatedly by their parents are nearly twice as likely to develop anxiety and depression later in life. While rates have recently plummeted, six in ten parents still smack their kids. Around 61% of young people experienced corporal punishment (physically hit for discipline four times or more during childhood). Youth who experienced corporal punishment were more likely to experience depression and anxiety (partly related to other experiences of child maltreatment).

The study also found that attitudes to physical punishment are changing. While 37.9% of people aged 65 and older viewed physical discipline as necessary, only 14.8% of young people thought it was necessary. And across Australia, the use of physical punishment in schools is generally forbidden. This indicates a cultural shift in what it takes to raise children well. 

In addition, witnessing family violence in someone's home or a public space can have negative impacts on one's own mental health. To learn more about the negative effects of physical or corporal punishment on children, see Corporal punishment and health (who.int). Another study shows that smacking is considered an adverse childhood experience (ACE), which causes toxic stress, see theupinstitute.com.

To date, Australia still permits parental physical discipline despite ongoing pressure from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to make this change. See which countries have already ended prohibited all corporal punishment of children at this website: endcorporalpunishment.org.

Change is needed. The legal framework that allows “reasonable” physical punishment of children as a common law defence for parents and carers needs to be changed. We urge each Australian state and territory to prioritize the safety of children.

We call on you to sign this petition to end physical punishment of children. Everyone, including government bodies and not-for-profit organisations, is encouraged to sign and share.

Once the petition has closed it will be presented to each Office of the Attorney General at federal, state and territory levels.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 1,000!
At 1,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!