In Brief

52 Countries Now Ban Spanking

A very sad little boy
(Image credit: esthermm/

A new law in France bans spanking of children, making it the 52nd country to prohibit the practice.

The law, known as the "equality and citizenship bill," was passed in France on Dec. 22, according to Marta Santos Pais, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on Violence against Children. It forbids "all cruel degrading or humiliating treatment, including corporal punishment," by parents, according to the SRSG.

The ban falls under the country's civil law, which means that people who break the law will not face criminal charges.

"This law is a very strong symbolic act to make parents understand just how all violence can be harmful for the child," Dr. Gilles Lazimi, who led an anti-spanking campaign for the Foundation for Childhood in France, was quoted as saying by the Telegraph. "Above all, it removes the notion of a threshold: There is no small or big violence. There is violence, full stop."  [10 Scientific Tips for Raising Happy Children]

A growing body of research suggests that spanking poses risks to children. A 2016 analysis of more than 50 years of research found that children who are spanked are more likely to defy their parents, develop mental health problems and show antisocial behavior and aggression.

Most countries in Europe now ban spanking, with the exception of the United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, the Telegraph said. The United States allows spanking.

Original article on Live Science.

Rachael Rettner

Rachael is a Live Science contributor, and was a former channel editor and senior writer for Live Science between 2010 and 2022. She has a master's degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a B.S. in molecular biology and an M.S. in biology from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has appeared in Scienceline, The Washington Post and Scientific American.