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    French MPs Overwhelmingly Endorse Ban on Parents Smacking Their Children

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    The debate as to whether or not parents should be able to discipline their children through spanking has become a hot-button issue in the European Union, with the bloc’s human rights body calling out Paris in 2014 for not moving to prohibit the practice sooner

    The French National Sssembly has voted in favour of a largely symbolic ban on parents smacking their children, according to France24.

    The initiative on "corporal punishment or humiliation" reportedly aims to ensure that parental authority is exercised "without violence" including "physical, verbal or psychological" violence. Members of the French parliament cast their votes early on the morning of Friday November 30, ending up with a total vote of 51-1 in support. According to reports, the bill will now be passed to the Senate for further consideration, meaning that in time it may become enshrined into law.

    While the bill has been welcomed in some quarters, including by President Emmanual Macron's La République en Marche party, some dismiss it as mere symbolism at best, politically correct propaganda at worst, especially considering that according to research, most French parents still support being able to physically punish their children if they wish to do. In fact, according to the non-governmental Childhood Foundation in France, roughly 85% of French parents resort to the sorts of punishments against their children that this legislation seeks to outlaw. 

    MP of the Democratic Movement party, Maud Petit, who sponsored the measure, said the bill's main goal was educational, to encourage society to change its views on the issue, the AFP news agency reports. Others however, have bitten back with fierce criticism of a deal they argue is invasive and overly politically correct. An MP from the conservative Republicans has slammed the proposal as "propaganda legislation" and as "pseudo official morality." 

    READ MORE: Corporal Punishment Makes Children ‘Aggressive and Antisocial’ — Study

    Violence against children — including disciplinary smacking by parental authorities — is banned in the majority of EU states. Yet, in France, along with the UK, Italy, Belgium, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Switzerland, parents are allowed to discipline children through smacking.

    Evidence that occasional smacking has an adverse impact upon the psychological development of a child is mixed, with convincing evidence supporting both sides of the debate. This year, a piece of research carried out across 88 countries and published in the British Medical Journal found that "repeated exposures to corporal punishment reinforce aggressive thoughts, emotions and actions towards others." The authors concluded that countries where corporal punishment of children is outlawed tend to have lower levels of violence. However, there are also studies with throw such apparent correlations into doubt. With some psychologists arguing that in fact the debate is based less on science, and more on a "culture war" between traditionalists and those driven by a new-age politically correct agenda.     

    Tags:
    smacking of children, Emmanuel Macron, Paris, France
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