Progress towards prohibiting all corporal punishment of children in Pacific countries

11 June 2015

The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children recently released a briefing Progress towards prohibiting all corporal punishment of children in Pacific countries  which provided information on the status of corporal punishment in various settings (home, schools, child care, alternative care and institutions) in 16 Pacific nations including Australia and New Zealand and called for change. New Zealand is the only country on the list where corporal (physical) punishment is banned in all settings.
• Nine countries ban corporal punishment in schools – seven do not
• Corporal punishment is banned in penal institutions in nine states and as a sentence for crime in ten states.
• 15 countries do not protect young children in day care
• Still only 10.3% of Pacific children are protected in law from all corporal punishment in all settings.
• Analysis of data on child discipline found high rates of physical punishment of children in the Pacific
• The Governments in four countries, Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa have made a commitment to banning all corporal punishment by accepting recommendations to do so made during the Universal Periodic Review of their overall human rights record but they have not yet done so.
Levels of violence towards women and children in the Pacific are of great concern.. Outdated social norms play a big part in the maintenance of the violence. The use of corporal punishment is a very dangerous norm contributing as it does to an intergenerational cycle of violence, child abuse and poor developmental outcomes for children.
Beth Wood, from Epoch New Zealand attended a unicef Pacific sponsored conference in Fiji “End Violence against children Pacific Conference” and spoke to the Briefing. Her speech can be read here.