March 2005


It appears that the Netherlands is close to introducing legislation that will effectively ban the use of physical punishment.  The publication Expatica News reports that the Dutch Cabinet has decided to outlaw all forms of violence against children to combat child abuse. In future parents will be explicitly obligated by law to care for their children and to raise them without emotional or physical violence.  Violence and child abuse is already illegal in the Netherlands, but the new law is designed to create a higher sense of values among parents.

The Justice Minister, Piet Hein, is reported as saying that violence does not belong with parenting.  He is also reported as having said that he was not interested in "endless" discussions over parental smacks - a smack often leads to violence.

The new law arose because judges have in the past given highly different rulings regarding parental discipline in child abuse cases.  The change in legislation will now shift the weight of evidence so that parents cannot simply claim bruises on their children are the result of disciplinary smacks.

Breaches of regulations can lead to supervision from welfare authorities or the loss of custody.  In more serious cases, culprits can be jailed at the order of a court.

The item concluded that in several other European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Austria, where all forms of violence against children is a criminal offence, evidence is starting to indicate that law change leads to a reduction in the number of child abuse cases.