child welfare

Italy split by Stockholm smacking arrest

4:44 min

An Italian local politician has been arrested for allegedly striking his son on the streets of Stockholm. According to the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet a 46 year old man was arrested last week, after people reported him hitting his 12-year old son.

The arrested man is a factory owner, and local politician from the south of Italy, aligned with Berlosconi's ruling centre-right coalition. And this arrest has made a big impression in Italy.

Åke Malm is a journalist based in Rome. He says that Italy's two biggest newspapers have taken up the story.

"What is very interesting is the commentaries, on the newspapers' websites. It seems that about 50 per cent is on the Swedish side, and on the other side, you have people saying that they could never think of coming to Sweden in the future, after this 'act of dictatorship'".

Åke Malm says that in Italy the accused man's lawyers are trying to play down the incident as nothing serious.

But in Aftonbladet a witness to the incident says that he saw the politician not only smack his son, but also lift him up by the hair, push him against the wall and strike him. The witness says that he reacted by rushing out and confronting the 46-year old; then went back to his pizzeria, called the police and identified the politician for arrest.

The way a bystander stepped in like this clearly shows the strength of feeling against hitting children here in Sweden.

Christina Heilborn is a legal expert from Unicef Sweden. She says that Sweden has a strong tradition of protection for children.

"sweden was the first country in the world to have an anti-spanking law, in 1979. There are still people who beat their children, but awareness is very high, and children also know that it is not allowed to hit them."

There will be a hearing on the 6th of September to see whether the Swedish police are going to pursue the case against the accused Italian politician, and Radio Sweden will be bringing you the news on that, as it happens.