Purpose of ISPCAN Working Groups

ISPCAN’s Working Groups address a wide spectrum child abuse and neglect topics.  The Working Groups aim to increase awareness, promote prevention strategies, clarify issues related to definitions, and facilitate consistency in data collection and measurement. The working group is an opportunity to address specific cases, policy questions, data collection, resources, or anything that challenges you or excites you about advancements in the field. Interested ISPCAN members as well as nonmembers are encouraged to join the group. We welcome participants from all disciplines and with varied experiences.


Convener: Naeem Zafar, ISPCAN Councilor

United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child defines ‘corporal’ or ‘physical’ punishment as any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, however light. Most involves hitting (‘smacking’, ‘slapping’, ‘spanking’) children, with the hand or with an implement – a whip, stick, belt, shoe, wooden spoon, etc. But it can also involve, for example, kicking, shaking or throwing children, scratching, pinching, biting, pulling hair or boxing ears, forcing children to stay in uncomfortable positions, burning, scalding or forced ingestion (for example, washing children’s mouths out with soap or forcing them to swallow hot spices) (1). 

It is prevalent globally with almost 1.7 billion (3/4th of all children) experienced some form of violence regardless of which country they live. No place is exempt, they may receive corporal punishment at home, in school or even in communities. 95% of the world’s total child population live in countries where they are no legal provisions to protect them from corporal punishment by parents, and 55% live in countries where there is no legal protection at schools. (2). Children are especially prone in low and middle-income countries where households apply physical punishment even when it is not necessary, some times as a part of their belief that it helps. (3)

ISPCAN feels that all kind of physical punishment, no matter how small and no matter with what intent is a form of child abuse and it strongly recommends to stop all kinds of violence against children including corporal punishment at homes, schools or any other setting. (4).

Promoting positive parenting can go a long way in preventing corporal punishment and we need to develop strategies to encourage parents and other care givers to develop the skills to discipline children without the use of violence.

  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), General comment No. 8 (2006): The Right of the Child to Protection from Corporal Punishment and Other Cruel or Degrading Forms of Punishment (Arts. 19; 28, Para. 2; and 37, inter alia), 2 March 2007, CRC/C/GC/8, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/460bc7772.html
  2. Know Violence in Childhood. (2017). ENDING IN CHILDHOOD VIOLENCE
  3. Child Disciplinary Practices at Home. (2010). Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/protection/Child_Disciplinary_Practices_at_Home.pdf
  4. http://www.crin.org/docs/UN_SG_Vio_Rev.pdf

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