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Full text of foreword:

“Mr. Jones is a well-respected employer and he loves his employees. He wants his business to be as successful and productive as possible. He needs well-disciplined workers to achieve that. He makes a rule that an employee who is not following his instruction, is late for work or responds too slow, will be subject to “reasonable chastisement”. He specifies what that chastisement will be – e.g. two slaps on the left hand of the worker (or the right hand if the worker is left handed) if he or she is 10 minutes late. It will be done in the office of the Director to avoid public embarrassment.

“Such a practice would be entirely unacceptable in every State in the world, result in a public outcry and, most likely, serious legal consequences, including prosecution of that employer.

“But if we replace the employer with a parent and the worker with a child, “reasonable chastisement” all of a sudden becomes acceptable. The excuse is usually that parents hit their children out of good intentions, or that it is in their “best interests”. But excuses are not justifications. An employer who hits one of his or her workers, even if done with the best intentions, commits an assault and violates the human dignity and physical integrity of that worker.

“Children in this survey – and in many other situations – tell you why hitting a child is wrong. Listen to them as you would listen to the employees when they tell you that smacking or other violence is wrong.

“In this world, 192 governments have promised that they will take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of violence (article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child). This includes the UK Government.

“The Committee on the Rights of the Child, in charge of monitoring this Convention, has recommended that governments should systematically:

  • Prohibit all forms of violence, including all corporal punishment however light, in the upbringing of children in their homes, in schools, in care institutions and any other place;

  • Undertake – at the same time – educational and awareness-raising campaigns to inform parents and other caretakers about children’s right to protection and about the non-violent methods of disciplining and raising children.

“Many citizens and politicians regularly express their concern about increasing violence in their societies. The credibility of this concern is questionable as long as they are not willing to seriously address the use of violence against children. And don’t suggest that a little bit of violence is acceptable. It is not! That applies equally for adults and children.

“Do you want a violence-free society? Walk the talk and make sure that your law prescribes that an act of violence against any and every person (white, black, big, small, boy/girl etc.) is an unacceptable violation of human dignity and physical integrity.”

Jaap Doek, October 2004

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