Minister battles physical violence against children
10 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — Keen to crackdown against violence in the home, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner has proposed a legislative change making it easier to prosecute parents who excessively punish their child physically.
During a debate in the Lower House of Parliament, the Tweede Kamer, the Christian Democrat CDA minister said on Monday that rulings handed down by the Supreme Court give rise to the possibility that regularly hitting a child is not prosecutable.
He said hitting a child is protected by laws guarding parental authority. But Donner intends to introduce draft legislation this year that will make it easier to prosecute parents for the physical punishment of a child, news agency ANP reported.
The minister said his proposal is not specifically directed against incidents such as a smack for disciplinary purposes. Child abuse however is illegal and the minister raised concern about the seriousness and extent of violence in the home.
“Parental authority is not a cover for violence,” he said.
Donner also said if it is legally impossible to differentiate between excessive violence in the home and a “pedagogic slap”, he is also prepared to place the concept of disciplinary smacks up for discussion, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.
The minister said last year he was not in favour of a civil ban on the physical punishment of children. But he said on Monday that he has been shocked by the extent of physical abuse against children and is now prepared to implement a definable standard.
Donner referred to a 1997 study which showed that one out of nine children between the age of five and 10 is the victim of physical violence by someone in the household circle. Deaths also regularly occur from excessive violence and the minister said better legislation will assist the courts to protect children.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news