Smacking children now illegal

Reforms prohibiting the physical punishment of children in the state of Jalisco entered into law this week after their publication in the Periódico Oficial del Estado (official state newspaper).

In March last year, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro sent a proposal to the State Congress mandating prison terms of up to five years for violators.  The reforms were approved with little or no dissent from legislators.

As well as going to prison, under the new so-called “ley anti-chancla,” parents or guardians can lose custody of their children if they strike them in any way.

The legislation incorporates the right for children and adolescents to have a “crianza positiva” (positive upbringing) without the threat of physical or psychological aggression from a parent or guardian.

The first countries to completely prohibit the corporal punishment of children were Sweden in 1966 and Finland in 1969. The United States, Canada and England still allow parents to use physical force to discipline their children within “reasonable” boundaries.

In 2006, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, or UNCRC, spelled out “the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment” and continues to recommend prohibition against corporal punishment of children.