The Irish government is being pressured to introduce a ban on spanking children after the Council of Europe received an official complaint from children's groups that the practice is a violation of young people's rights.
Measures that allow parents the right to use “reasonable and moderate chastisement” were repealed in the 2001 Children’s Act, but the removal of the common law defence requires new legislation.
Children's groups filed an official complaint to the Council of Europe that said Ireland has failed to introduce a ban in legislation, despite repeated criticism from both the Council of Europe and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
According to the Irish Times, The Children's Rights Alliance, which includes more than 100 organizations, wrote to the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald, urging the government to introduce legislation to outlaw "violence against children" and to strengthen positive parenting support programs.
“We are also seeking a prohibition on the use of corporal punishment in all settings. Corporal punishment is a form of violence and ill-treatment from which all children have a right to be protected,” said Tanya Ward, the alliance’s chief executive.
The Minister, who said considerable progress has been made in recent years to encourage parents to use non-violent forms of discipline, has until the end of the month to draw up a formal response to the Council of Europe committee.
The new complaint follows a previous collective complaint in 2005 from the World Organization Against Torture, whereas the council decided that although criminal law protected children from serious violence within the home, it “remains the fact that certain forms of violence are permitted.”
A study called 'Growing Up in Ireland,' which looked at nine-year-olds, found that 11 percent of mothers spank their children occasionally. Another survey of 800 Irish adults, conducted last year, found that nearly one in two believe it acceptable to slap a child.