France bans smacking despite public support

Three European countries still allow corporal punishment at home

France has banned corporal punishment within the home, becoming the 52nd country to do so.

There are now only three countries in Europe who allow corporal punishment - the UK, Georgia, and Armenia.

Until now corporal punishment was forbidden in schools but the "right to correct inside the family" was still tolerated as long as it was "light and to educational ends". 

Article 68 of the so-called "equality and citizenship bill" forbids "all cruel degrading or humiliating treatment, including any recourse to corporal violence" in the exercise of parental authority.

Smacking is not the only deemed behaviour as it orders parents to "abstain from all forms of violence: physical, verbal and psychological", meaning that humiliating remarks also count as violence.

The law passes as the Telegraph reports on a recent poll which suggests French parents are in favour of corporal punishment, with 85% of people polled saying they smack their children. 70% polled were also against an all-out ban.

French Family Minister Laurence Rossignol called the new law an "indispensable tool in preventing child mistreatment". However, centrist MP Jean Christophe Lagard described it as "a ridiculous attempt to micromanage family life".

Last year, the Council of Europe urged France to impose a clear ban after British children's charity Approach complained that France had violated a section of the European Social Charter by not expressly banning smacking “in families, schools, and other settings”.

In Ireland, the the Children First Bill 2014 was amended two years ago, removing the "defence of reasonable chastisement" - if a parent or carer is charged with assault or child cruelty, they cannot claim in defence that they were only inflicting ‘reasonable chastisement’ in disciplining their child.

Correcton: In a previous edition of this article, four European countries were listed as allowing corporal punishment including Estonia. Estonia does not allow corporal punishment and the article has been edited to reflect that.