Brazil president seeks legal ban on smacking

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has sent a bill to Congress which would ban the use of corporal punishment on children.

The bill would outlaw any cruel or degrading treatment that humiliates or seriously threatens children, including spanking.

Lula said it was not meant to prevent parents educating their children.

But he said everyone knew that spanking didn't educate children any better than talking to them.

Under current legislation in Brazil, child abuse is illegal, but the proposed law would for the first time explicitly ban spanking and smacking by parents and guardians.


Parents who ignored the law would be given a warning, and repeat offenders could be ordered to attend child protection classes, or even undergo psychiatric treatment.

Ultimately, Brazil's child protection services would intervene in households where the problem persisted.

Anticipating some resistance to the bill, President Lula said critics would say the government was trying to prevent parents from educating their children.

"No-one wants to prevent a mother being a mother, or a father being a father, " he said. "We just want to show that it is possible to do things in a different way."

More dialogue

The Brazilian president, who was one of eight children in a poor migrant family, said he felt fortunate because his mother never struck any of her children, and that the had followed her example with his own.

"If punishment and whipping solved things, we wouldn't have so much corruption or banditry in this country," he said.

President Lula said there should be a more open dialogue between Brazilian parents and children about matters such as sex and drugs.

The bill, which draws on the experiences of more than twenty countries where the use of corporal punishment on children is illegal, still needs approval by both houses of Congress to be passed into law.

(Published by BBC – July 15, 2010)

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