November 2005

Countries where children are protected from corporal punishment

Members of EPOCH New Zealand are sometimes asked which countries have prohibited physical punishment.

The following information is from the website


In the following 15 states, children are protected by law from all corporal punishment:

Austria (1989)
Finland (1983)
Latvia (1998),
Croatia (1999)
Germany (2000)
Norway (1987)
Cyprus (1994)
Israel (2000)
Sweden (1979)
Denmark (1997)
Iceland (2003)
Ukraine (2004)
Romania (2004)
Bulgaria (2000)
Hungary (2005)

In addition, in Belgium in 2000 a new clause was added to the Constitution confirming children's right to moral, physical, psychological and sexual integrity; its legal effect is unclear and an explicit ban on all corporal punishment is under consideration. In Italy in 1996 the Supreme Court in Rome declared all corporal punishment to be unlawful; this is not yet confirmed in legislation. In Portugal, according to the Civil Code parent-child relations are characterised by obedience and "paternal power" (article 1878), under which parents should direct the child's education. A 1994 Supreme Court decision (Supremo Tribunal de Justiça, 9 February 1994) ruled that this article does not give parents the right to raise their children through physical aggression. This ruling has yet to be confirmed in legislation.