By Lennart Hane, Lawyer,
This article was written in response to an article "Crime and Punishment" published in The Guardian on May 21, 1999, following the case where a Scottish sheriff court ruled that a parent used excessive force when he slapped his daughter.
The author of the article praised the Swedish anti-smacking law. That made Lennart Hane reply. The Guardian enthusiastically received his article but the Family Editor failed to publish it.
Lennart Hane is a very well-known
Swedish lawyer. He has written several books about the totalitarian system in
The experiences of the now 20-yr
old smacking ban in
The risks increase as the child grows, since he or she can become - consciously or inadvertently - the betrayer of his own parents, because he does not understand that he is running the risk of being separated from his parents and siblings.
It is possible that the increase of bullying in schools and the rise in children's propensity to use violence against each other can be evidence that physical punishment is no longer being used, and in which case, that shows that this has been to the detriment of the child.
The disadvantages of the smacking ban - even for the child - can be illustrated by the following case that has not yet been finally adjudicated.
The Spanish-Swedish parents in Stockholm
The parents had to pay 15 000 SEK (£ 1111) in damages to their daughter for violation of her personal integrity.
The mother is from
According to the verdict, the parents have decided to refrain from spanking their child because they are afraid that the social authorities will remove her from their care. The little girl reported proudly at her nursery school, that her parents spanked her. Following the routines which have been set out for the professions, the pre-school teacher reported the child's story to the local social worker, who in her turn reported the parents to the police.
Under threat that the child
would be taken into public care and placed in a foster home, the parents were
forced to submit to a daytime investigation during which the parents and child
were observed at a so-called investigation home. When this, for the parents,
very belittling investigation had lasted four weeks, they refused to co-operate
any further. Shortly afterwards the social council decided to take their child
into care immediately and put her in a foster home. After a preliminary hearing
The child had a lawyer of her own, who was
supposed to protect her interests, during the trial in the
"Children are very dependent on the adults around them, and especially their parents, to feel safety in their lives and environment among other things. That is the reason why the society must react strongly when children are subjected to ill treatment. The ill treatment of V has taken place in her home during a long period of time and it has been planned and systematic. Even if the injuries have been relatively slight, the deeds must be judged as assault and battery, due to the conditions we have stated above.
Assault and battery is a crime of the sort that is punished by prison. To this must be added the fact that the assault was perpetrated on a child by her mother and stepfather for almost one whole year. The parents seem to live under good social conditions, so there is no reason to choose any other punishment. The parents should therefore be sentenced to a shorter prison sentence."
On Thursday May 20, inst., the Court of Appeals confirmed the sentence of the lower court.
This very fresh example of the "successful" swedish smacking ban gives rise to very harsh comments. I will confine myself to point out that the law and its mobilisation of the social authorities, police, prosecutors, courts and lawyers have in no way been an advantage for the child.