1 Int'l J. Child. Rts. 101 (1993)
Child's Right to Physical Integrity, The; Newell, Peter

handle is hein.journals/intjchrb1 and id is 113 raw text is: The child's right to physical integrity

The child's right to physical integrity
PETER NEWELL*
Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the child provides a
new opportunity to uphold children's rights to physical integrity worldwide.
While in most societies adults' protection from all forms of inter-personal
violence is supported by the law and by social attitudes, when it comes to
children the law tends to draw its protective circle not around the child but
around the adult who uses violence as a means of discipline. Hitting children,
with hands, belts, sticks and other objects - a common habit in most coun-
tries of the world - confirms their current low status as lesser people than adults
and passes from one generation to another the dangerous message that it is
acceptable to use violence to solve inter-personal conflicts.
It is only in the last three decades that child abuse has been discovered
and become an issue of serious concern around the world. But even in soci-
eties which have begun to take active steps to reduce it, child abuse is defined
in a way which leaves some arbitrary level of violence both socially and legally
acceptable.
Prevalence of physical punishment
In the United Kingdom interviews with parents in 1985, found that two-thirds
of a large sample of mothers were already hitting their baby before the age
of one. Earlier interviews revealed that 22 percent of seven year-olds had
been hit with an implement, and another 53 percent had been threatened with
an implement. In Romania a survey early in 1992 found 84 percent of a sample
of parents regarded spanking as a normal method of child-rearing; 96 percent
did not consider it humiliating or degrading.
In the USA, a 1985 survey of a representative sample of 3,232 families with
children under 17 found that 89 percent of parents reported hitting their three
year-old during the previous year; about a third of 15-17 year-olds had been
hit by parents during the year. In Korea, a 1982 survey by the Children
Protection Association found 97 percent of interviewed children had been
physically punished, many severely. In Barbados a 1987 survey found 70
percent of respondents generally approving of parental physical punishment;
of this 70 percent, 76 percent endorsed beating children with belts or sya'ps.
In St. Kitts, 73 percent of children interviewed in 1987 agreed with the

* Co-ordinator of EPOCH - End Physical Punishment of Children.

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