NOPUNISH project aims to provide a validated and tested toolkit in order to facilitate the transfer of good practices in elimination of corporal punishment across European regions/countries. This toolkit will include an innovative assessment tool to determine the contextual requirements needed for the implementation of relevant practices being applied in other settings and the potential of the existing protection systems to adopt it. Thus, NOPUNISH toolkit will leverage on existing knowledge to enable regions and countries to develop a planning for change towards no punishment at all.
The proposed toolkit will facilitate the assessment of the maturity of the protection system according to four dimensions, so that public authorities can easily identify which dimensions concentrate the weaknesses of the system and, consequently, which ones need to be improved:
The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of the United Nations has emphasised that human rights require the elimination of all corporal punishment, in any form, and all other cruel or degrading punishment. The CRC defines corporal or physical punishment as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. Most involves hitting (“smacking”, “slapping”, “spanking”) children, with the hand or with an implement – whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. But it can also involve, for example, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion. In the view of the CRC, corporal punishment is invariably degrading. In addition, there are other non-physical forms of punishment which are also cruel and degrading and thus incompatible with the convention. These include, for example, punishment which belittles, humiliates, denigrates, scapegoats, threatens, scares or ridicules the child. In November 2009, the Committee of Ministers of the Council adopted as a recommendation, “Guidelines on integrated national strategies for the protection of children from violence” (Recommendation CM/Rec (2009)10). Among the elements considered in these guidelines it was strongly recommended to prohibit “all corporal punishment and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of children, both physical and psychological”.
Several countries have implemented national laws in order to respond to the different recommendations and international declarations demanding the elimination of corporal punishment of children in any form. However, there are several challenges to face, in addition to the legal adaptation, in order to reach the dignity and human rights of children in Europe. The adoption of laws that totally prohibit the corporal punishment of children is not sufficient to achieve the ultimate goal of eliminating this social scourge. Besides the sanctions or punishment foreseen in the regulation, complementary policies and measures need to be adopted simultaneously to ensure behaviour changes leading to a comprehensive protection of children against corporal punishment.