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Corporal punishment and child assault

"Not using physical abuse takes time"

Published torsdag 3 november 2011 kl 16.27
"Not using physical abuse takes time"
(3:54 min)
Child abuse reports are on the rise. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/Scanpix.

All corporal punishment against children has been illegal in Sweden since 1979, but still, over the last decade there has been a threefold increase of physical assault cases reported to police, according to a new report from BRÅ, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention.

"The majority of what is reported to police involves what you can call relatively minor forms of violence such as smacking and slapping children, and the proportion of cases that involves signs of some form of physical injury has actually declined quite sharply since the 90's", says David Shannon, a research analyst at BRÅ.

Anna Norlén, who is a psychologist and director of the BUP Grinden clinic in Stockholm, thinks it might be time for a new campaign to inform parents and children about their legal rights and the negative aspects of corporal punishment.

"When our legislation against physical abuse came in 1979, we had a lot of information for parents and children about physical abuse and the negative aspects of it. We have a discussion that maybe it's time for a new campaign about what rights you have as a child and also information and support to parents", she says to Radio Sweden.

Parents today are under a lot of stress and pressure and many parents they meet need guidance on how to solve conflicts within the family, according to Norlén. She says it is important for children, even at a young age, to discuss and understand why their parents are angry and what they can do to solve problems together.

But solving conflicts takes time and she says that may be the reason why physical assault is increasing.

"Not using physical abuse takes time, and it is long term work - you have to start from the day you become a parent. You have to build the relationship with your child and that takes time, a lot of time, everyday", she says.

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