Corporal Punishment of Children (NSW)

Corporal Punishment of Children (NSW)

It was common practice in the past for parents and even teachers to physically discipline their kids. The appropriateness and acceptability of smacking children has come under scrutiny in recent years. Some contend that physical punishment is an essential component of childrearing, while others believe that physical violence in any form is immoral and ought to be outlawed.

The penal code of New South Wales offers a defense against child assault when it comes to punishment, but only under specific conditions. The common law defense of lawful correction is altered by the legislative defense.


The legislation

According to Crimes Act 1900 Section 61AA, if someone is accused of assaulting a child after using physical force on them, it can be used against them if the force was used as a form of punishment if:

  • The physical force used was appropriate given the child’s age, health, maturity, and other attributes as well as the nature of the misbehavior and other circumstances.
  • It was carried out by the child’s parent or someone acting on behalf of their parent.

It is unreasonable to use physical force if:

  • It is done in a way that is likely to hurt the kid for an extended length of time;
  • It is applied to the child’s head or neck (unless the force was insignificant or nonexistent);

Who is a child?

For the purposes of this defence, a person under the age of eighteen is considered a child.

Who is a parent?

A parent is a person who is endowed with authority, power, and responsibility over a kid. When someone manages and cares for a child on behalf of a parent, they are authorized by the parent to use force to discipline the youngster.


Should the legislation be altered?

Numerous countries, such as Greece, Germany, Italy, and New Zealand, have enacted legislation outlawing the physical punishment of children. Legalizing the act of slapping a child is a popular idea in Australia. There are, meanwhile, many who vehemently advocate for keeping the law exactly as it is.

Arguments for changing the law

Advocates of outlawing corporal punishment argue that because both physical discipline and physical abuse involve violent acts like punching and shaking, they cannot be distinguished from one another. Determining whether a parent is acting legitimately is further complicated by the requirement that the use of physical force be “reasonable,” as there is no agreement in the society over what constitutes reasonable behavior in the sake of discipline.

The UN organization in charge of promoting children’s rights, UNICEF, classified physical punishment as a form of violence in 2014. According to research, using corporal punishment on kids can have a severe impact on their behavior and mental health in addition to causing hostility. According to research, children who get physical punishment from their parents are just as likely to rebel against them as they are to follow their parents’ lead. Moreover, it implies that physical abuse is more likely to occur when corporal punishment is used.

Physical discipline is also criticized for teaching kids that using violence to resolve conflicts is acceptable, for undermining the healthy bonds kids have with their parents and other caregivers, and for being used by parents who are controlling and furious.

Arguments against changing the law

Physical punishment proponents contend that teaching kids about good and wrong behavior is an essential component of that education. A smack gets the child’s attention in a way that other, less forceful types of discipline would not. A slap can keep a child safe in a physically dangerous circumstance, like when they try to rush onto a road, by making them fearful of the repercussions of acting recklessly.


Corporal punishment by non-parents

Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales have all outlawed the use of physical punishment in classrooms. Regarding whether physical punishment is appropriate in educational settings, there is considerable legal ambiguity in the other jurisdictions. Although it is prohibited in non-government schools in the Northern Territory, corporal punishment is not prohibited in government institutions. In Queensland, it is prohibited in public schools but permitted in private ones under “reasonable discipline.”

The legality of physically abusing children in residential care settings differs throughout jurisdictions. While the Criminal Code in the NT allows the use of physical punishment to “discipline, manage, or control” a child (Section 27), the Child Protection Act in Queensland forbids its use on a child placed in care (Section 122). Section 41 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Regulations 2012 forbids the use of corporal punishment in out-of-home care in New South Wales.


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