Up to 12 percent of Danish children have been exposed to shaking, slapping, and various beatings in the course of the past two months, a national survey of parents of 50,000 children carried out by the National Research and Analysis Centre for Welfare (Vive) has revealed.
Immigrant children appeared to be the most vulnerable, with over a third of them experiencing various forms of corporal punishment, TV2 reported.
"In those families, more than a third of the children have experienced some degree of physical punishment. That is a high proportion", senior Vive researcher Signe Boe Rayce said. "It is important for children's development and well-being that they experience the parents as a safe base, where they can find comfort. A harsh upbringing bereaves the child of that base and increases the risk of frustration", she said.
Denmark's ban on physically admonishing children was passed in 1997, nearly 25 years ago, which is why Per Schultz Jørgensen, the deputy chairman of the Children's Council, said he is shaken by the results of the survey. According to Schultz Jørgensen, a professor emeritus of social psychology, this survey reveals "failing integration" and reflects a situation when many immigrants are outside the labour market and living in parallel societies.
"We have not been able to convey to them the development that has taken place in child-rearing many decades ago. We saw similar figures among Danish parents. Today, we take it for granted that parents raise their children with friendly and loving care", Schultz Jørgensen said.
According to current Children's Council head Agi Csonka, the problem is that many immigrants hail from countries where it is not forbidden to strike children. "Maybe that's how they themselves were raised", Csonka ventured, citing a possible lack of knowledge to do things differently.
Another problem, she mused, was the differential treatment immigrant families are sometimes given by the Danish authorities, who tend to have a higher threshold for intervening against violence in ethnic Danish families.
"As there is still a large minority among ethnic minorities who do this, there is obviously a need for a targeted effort", Csonka said. "Wherever there is talk of serious violence, you must, of course, crack down hard on it, as you do in Danish families", she said.