Corporal Punishment; Protection Still Unheard

Corporal Punishment; Protection Still Unheard

Only one in seven children the world over are protected by laws against corporal punishment, which is the most common form of violence against children ranging from smacking to more extreme abuse, according to Save the Children.

Despite moves in recent years to outlaw such violence, only 65 countries from 199 currently ban all forms of corporal punishment, including in the home.

Ahead of International Day to End Corporal Punishment on Sunday, Save the Children calls for the universal elimination of all forms of corporal punishment by 2030, to meet one of the targets of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals agreed in 2015.


Corporal punishment is the physical and humiliating punishment of children at the hands of parents, teachers and caregivers. Every year, thousands of children die as the result of corporal punishment, and many more are seriously injured. 

Many forms of corporal punishment would be considered torture if they were carried out on adults. It can include the threat of violence, smacking, but can also involve kicking, shaking, burning, and forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions. It also includes humiliating treatment, which belittles the child.

Zambia was one of the most recent countries to ban corporal punishment in all settings of children’s lives, with legislation last November providing nearly 9 million children with legal protection from violent punishment.


Physical and humiliating punishment affects a child’s brain development and their emotional wellbeing, which can lead to long term mental health issues. There is overwhelming evidence that corporal punishment leads to increased anti-social behaviours and aggression, which can carry on into adulthood, at great cost to society, the organisation said.

Steve Miller, Global Child Protection Director, Save the Children International, said:

Children around the world have a right to legal protection from corporal punishment, in the family home and all other settings of their lives. This human right is recognised under international treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, yet many countries fail to prohibit corporal punishment. All countries must respect children’s rights and ban all forms of corporal punishment.”


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