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Thursday, 20 November 2014

French government minister hesitantly re-opens the spanking debate

And so the debate has begun again - just as it does periodically in France with, nothing... changing along the way.

The French government has announced it wants to "re-open the debate about spanking" with the minister for families, Laurence Rossignol, saying in an interview this week on Europe 1 radio that she wanted there to be "a violence-free education in French society."

Laurence Rossignol (screenshot Europe 1 interview)

Now before those of you who are morally opposed to any form of physical punishment of children begin rejoicing and welcome Rossgnol's good intentions, don't think that "re-opening the debate" is going to mean a change in the law any time soon.

In May 2014, parliamentarians rejected the addition of an anti-smacking amendment to family law

And back in 2010, a bill presented to the National Assembly by the former parliamentarian and paediatrician  Edwige Antier in 2010 went absolutely nowhere.

Just as it always seems to, in a country in which (according to a 2010 poll) a majority of healthcare professionals (88 per cent) were against the introduction of legislation prohibiting corporal punishment (in all its forms) and in which public opinion runs along the lines of "smacking is all right, so long as it's done 'properly'".

Just take a look at this report from "your typical French town and the views of its inhabitants" which appeared on TF1's lunchtime news broadcast earlier this week.

And Rossignol's desire to "re-open the debate" is far from being a signal that she, or the government, intends to go any further than simply discussing the issue and perhaps making people more aware of alternatives.

Well, not for the time being at least.

"We can be parents and be obeyed (the French seem to be big on the word "obey") without resorting to violence, especially when it comes to small children," she said.

"The civil code already stipulates that interpersonal violence is prohibited, although there is an exemption within an educational context,' she continued,

"We just simply have to get rid of this exemption that seems to be part of the habits and certitude of parenting," she added, saying that relaunching the debate would allow a "period of reflection" with legislation "to follow a long time afterwards."

Oh well, it look as as though France is still a long way off joining the other European countries which have already passed legislation making corporal punishment, of which smacking is a part, a punishable offence.

Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine,

"Status of corporal punishment: total abolition has been achieved – corporal punishment is prohibited in the home, schools, penal systems and alternative care settings"

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